Anglicans say Hikoi of Hope initiatives are making progress

NZ Herald, 14 April 1999   [NZ Press Association]

WELLINGTON - The Anglican Church says last year's month-long Hikoi of Hope march has resulted in a lot more than just hot air.

The Anglican-organised journey, which set out from Kaitaia and Bluff, converged on Parliament In October and involved other churches in the fight against poverty.

Anglican spokeswoman Julia Stuart says regional meetings held throughout the country, attended by local MPs, were looking at the best ways of meeting community needs.

Hikoi initiatives included a volunteer education programme to help children with reading difficulties in the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa, job creation in Hastings, attempts to meet housing needs in Hamilton and a poverty action group in Palmerston North.

Anglicans did more than a million hours of voluntary work every week, Mrs Stuart said.

The Hikoi arose from the concerns of those involved in that work, who felt they were just the ambulance at the bottom of a cliff.

"The first step m solving a problem such as poverty is to acknowledge it exists. That was what the hikoi was about."

About 40,000 people participated in the nation-wide hikoi, during which people told their tales of hardship at meetings along the way. Those stories were handed to politicians when 8000 hikoi supporters gathered at Parliament on October 1.

Later, a number of critics claimed that the march had resulted in little more than hot air.

Mrs Stuart said church agencies were helping needy people through foodbanks, budget advice, child and family support, employment and youth services and housing assistance.

She added that only policy and structural changes at Government level could help some.