Government and church leaders discuss mutual priorities

church leaders

Housing, access to COVID vaccination, income and well being, are some of the major concerns church leaders raised recently at a church and government meeting.

As reported recently by CathNews, church leaders met, March 11, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni and Housing Minister Megan Woods to discuss issues of mutual concern.

The churches’ position papers have just been released.

“We seek tika me pono (truth and justice) to right wrongs in our history that continue to lead to disparities which see poorer health outcomes for Māori and Pasifika. We cannot be healthy unless all are healthy”, the church leaders said.

Acknowledging the impact of COVID-19, the church leaders said the virus has exposed new forms of inequality and thrown new light on old and ongoing injustices.

“Many want to get back to ‘normal’, but we don’t want a ‘normality’ that returns to an everyday life which is indifferent to the poor and to the environment, and just exposes us again to the next pandemic.”

During the pandemic, church and state cooperation has ensured wide-ranging support – from connecting with kaumātua/isolated elderly people, finding accommodation, providing necessities, supporting migrant workers and temporary visa holders.

“We seek ongoing engagement in this regard,” New Zealand’s church leaders said.

Two issues — housing and welfare — “have been priorities for decades in these meetings of Church Leaders and Government, but remain urgent and pressing issues in the context of the pandemic.”

COVID vaccinations

Confirming their support for vaccinations, the church leaders offered to:

  • Contribute to public messaging about Covid-19 as an ethical choice for the common good.
  • Support and encourage church members to be vaccinated.
  • Provide access to church facilities as vaccination centres.

They asked for:

  • Information about the vaccination priority settings for church workers like hospital chaplains.
  • Clarity around the process of setting priorities for border entry for non-citizens and residents.
  • Recognition that there are circumstances in which church workers are essential workers for immigration purposes.
  • Recognition of family reunification as a priority when border restrictions can be relaxed.

Welfare, Income and Wellbeing

The church leaders said they want:

  • To provide input into policy and programmes that support New Zealanders making significant permanent changes to work and careers because of Covid-19 outcomes, including retraining and psychosocial support.
  • To work with Government and other agencies to provide access to psychosocial services for those affected by COVID-19 health or economic effects.
  • Government to recognise the benefit levels do not meet basic needs and should be lifted.
  • To continue the dialogue about addressing food insecurity.
  • To encourage the Government to continue to push a wellbeing approach to better integrate social, economic and environmental dimensions to grow inter-generational wellbeing and resilience.


The church leaders would like to see:

  • A long-term balanced policy approach to the housing crisis is needed. The pressure is building as homeownership reduces, and rent increases.
  • The Government partnering more and sharing development investments with community housing providers.
  • The Government committing to a balanced tenure policy of social housing, secure renting and affordable homeownership, with access for lower-income households.
  • Priority access for Māori and Pasifika households.
  • Housing support assistance reviewed so lower-income households are realistically better off and can afford essential housing costs.



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News category: New Zealand.

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