Rotorua wahine reflects on "living below the line"

Rotorua wahine reflects on “living below the line”

(By Briar Joyes, Waiariki Journalism School)

A Rotorua woman reflects on her $2.25 a day eating programme and talks about her interesting experience.

Kiri Danielle completed the 5 day ‘Live Below the Line’ challenge to get a glimpse of how people survive on the bare minimum.

She was one of many New Zealanders who took part in this campaign which ran from the 15-19 of October this year.

Ms Danielle said this experience changed the way she eats and now she chooses to eat less processed food and is focused on growing her own kai.

I did it to support the kaupapa, for personal growth and to share the experience with my tamariki so they could watch what it was to live in poverty,” she said.

Ms Danielle said her daughter Moerewa, 12, joined her living below the line for some of the meals.

“I’m a Mum first so if Moerewa was hungry, she ate, as her health was paramount to me,” she said. “She participated enough to understand poverty much better and we both grew closer, ”she said.

“It changed the way she looks at food, now she appreciates it more.”

She said children can be quite demanding of parents for new things and it was a really good way to teach them the value of money.

Ms Danielle said the hardest part of the challenge was eating minimal amounts when there was an abundance of food around her in society – and a lot of it going to waste.

“I ate rice and a small amount of veges from my garden and few eggs which I classed as a privilege because I’m not sure people living in poverty would have them,” she said.

“Being hungry like that made me think of how much food gets thrown in the bins in our society.”

One lesson my Dad taught me when I was little was “Kaua e maumau kai” – “Don’t waste food” – when you’re living in poverty – you don’t want to waste anything – or see anything go to waste. Not when it could be feeding you and your babies,” she said.

Ms Danielle said by the end of the five days she had lost weight and felt tired and grumpy.

“How can people living in poverty be expected to have energy to concentrate on education or be the best parent they can when their health, mental focus and mood are so negatively affected by poverty?” she said.

“I got  tired and warn down even without the stress of knowing it could be forever.”

Ms Danielle said living off the bare minimum was not totally abnormal for her however.

She said she has struggled before and there have been times she experienced poverty.

“There have been times in my life where I have been as broke as a joke,” she said “When I was at University there was a point where I lived off one pumpkin for a week rather than ask anyone for help.”

Ms Danielle said the experience has changed one other thing too, the way she shops.

“I don’t want to pay for packaging. I can’t eat fancy wrapping. Just give me the kai.”

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