It's shocking enough that about 40,000 New Zealand children start school on empty tummies, but more hideous is that sensible people want the Government to do something about it.

Then again, when I discussed this problem on Facebook some from the far right said it wasn't their problem; they had their own children to feed. I guess heartlessness exists on both sides.

But let's suppose the state runs breakfasts and children have full stomachs. Will their hearts and minds be nourished? As a nation we'd be fast-tracking towards the riots Britain is weeping about.

Labour leader Ed Milliband, touring wrecked Tottenham last week, learned of oiks with nothing to do in their community. His reaction? "We must give them a stake in society."


Politicians can't give individuals "a stake", least of all by providing breakfast. Government in Wellington doesn't care about little Susie in Kaikoura and whether she likes one Weetbix or two. Governments have taken community away from us - we need to take it back and 40,000 hungry children present an opportunity.

St Andrew's Church in Martinborough, led by vicar extraordinaire Archdeacon May Croft, started providing breakfast for the local school, which is not low decile, about a year ago. Any child can come, including those whose mothers start work early.

It means the truly poor and hungry aren't stigmatised.

Breadcraft and Hansells provide bread and chocolate drink. Locals donate homemade bacon, apples, milk - they give generously. Ask people nicely and they never turn you down. At first breakfast was shy and nervous; now it's evolved into a lovely time.

The children say a karakia, choose a story, rinse their dishes, then are walked to school and discuss nature along the way. Their vocabulary is extended. The vicar's te reo Maori is improving.

The extended community has become involved and not all approve. Some say the children don't look hungry, that Winz should be told. But Winz don't know these children by name. These are our children, they should be fed by this community - it's about sitting together and eating together and some mums come along and help, too, when they can.

The best feedback was when a social worker commented that the chances of these children growing up and feeding their own children properly is high.

This programme isn't unique - there are many, not necessarily church-based - around New Zealand. Churches are a good place to start but it's fashionable these days to dismiss anything concerning Christianity. Wanganui's Mayor, Annette Main, wants to remove the opening prayer from the council meeting because she thinks it should respect "all faiths", a move which is now before the Human Rights Tribunal. Did it really harm anyone to mention God before the meetings?


Cameron Slater doesn't hold back in his pummelling of my writings but my repugnance for one of his cowardly critics far outweighs his loathing of me.

Slater recently blogged that he'd no longer be a panellist on Martyn Bradbury's television programme after Bradbury, among other insults, tried to link Slater's Christian beliefs to far-right Christian Anders Breivik's slaughter at Norway's youth camp.

Would Bradbury dare link Muslim Labour MP Ashraf Choudhary to the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York?

No, because "respecting all faiths" in this country often means tip-toeing around Islam but mocking Christianity.

I've digressed, but my point is if we don't want hungry children ending up as angry, looting youth in hoodies, taking goods they don't need just because they can, then I don't think we should shrug our shoulders and say their plight is not our problem, it's government's. Blaming their parents might make you feel better but won't help the kids.

How about encouraging those on benefits to give something in exchange? There may not be jobs but there's plenty of work to be done. Breakfast programmes for children are an extreme time commitment. We have about 16,500 unemployed youth who could make porridge and toast, read stories, teach te reo, walk kiddies to school.

Our Martinborough community feeds 16 kids. To feed 40,000 children this country only needs another 2499 voluntary breakfast centres. Too easy.