Attendants at a Green Party discussion on inequality on Thursday night were moved by the plight of a single mother struggling to get by on minimum wage while studying.
Organiser Philip McConkey said the woman shared her story with a panel of speakers on Thursday evening.
She talked about "the realities of a single parent working on minimum wage, part-time, while at the same time she's trying to study to be a nurse".
"She was unable to continue her talk because she was just too upset."
The discussion, with speakers MP Jan Logie, Sue Bradford, and Living Wage NZ's Lyn Williams, was about the "potential solutions" for inequality.
Mr McConkey said "a hundred or so" people turned up.
They discussed the need for a living wage of about $19.
"I think there are about 5000 employers in the country who have committed themselves to a living wage, rather than minimum wage."
They also talked about a universal basic income (UBI).
"People's annual income needs to be at livable levels."
Mr McConkey said income needed to be adjusted to "increase people's standard of living, or their capacity to just simply survive on a better level".
He pointed to the case of the studying single mother, who would be caught in a decision over paying the power bill or buying groceries.
"We know thousands and thousands of people who are going through that every day of the week. Most people either don't know or don't care what it's like.
"What kind of society have we got when we have to have active food banks? Our people have to go and depend on charity . . . that's fundamentally wrong."
The discussion on inequality has been held over the last three Thursdays.