What’s the solution to widening income gaps?

Welcome to Closer Together Whakatata Mai – an information programme calling for a more equal New Zealand in 2014. We’re promoting actions that will lead to narrower income gaps, a fairer New Zealand and better opportunities for all.

This site has literally hundreds of ideas about how to get New Zealanders closer together. Have a look at what you can do individually, what your organisation can do, and what you could be asking the government to do. Below are some examples of what you can do.

Join the community of change

Change is happening in New Zealand and around the world as people realise the damage that high inequality is inflicting on us all. It is easy to say “It’s not my problem – only the government can fix this”, but each of us has a voice and has some degree of influence. Your conversations with friends and family, your letters and emails, where you work or volunteer, where you bank and save, the church, faith or community groups you belong to – these are the kinds of places where you have a chance to make a difference. Sign up to get our  Closer Together email update.

Connect with us on Facebook

Post your comments and ideas, questions and opinions, share pictures, videos and stories from things you are involved in that could help reduce inequality on our Facebook page or connect with us on Twitter.

Tell people about inequality

Awareness about inequality is growing, but many people still do not know how big the gap is between rich and poor, how it got to be the way it is, the harm it is doing as well as what we can do about and the benefits that reducing inequality will bring. We’ve even come up five ways to talk about inequality…

Download and share posters, leaflets and other background info from our Closer Together toolkit.

Write letters and emails

Politicians read their mail and email inbox. The more letters they receive asking them to take action to reduce inequality and poverty, the more likely they are to do something. Stuck for what to say? Check out our guide to writing to politicians. Letters to the editors of newspapers and magazines get published and read by thousands of people.

Your vote counts

Think about policies that address inequality when deciding how to vote. The Vote Compass site shows inequality rates just behind the economy as the most important issue to the more than 200,000 people, while Roy Morgan polls suggest it is the most important issue.

Are you willing to pay more tax?

Are you earning a good income? Then ask yourself – am I willing to pay more tax? More tax income would help pay for a universal child payment to lift kids out of poverty, for example.

Lobby for pay ratios in your organisation

pay ratio is the idea that there should be a link between top and bottom pay in any company or organisation – that, for instance, the CEO’s pay should be no more than ten times that of their lowest paid staff member. Then, if the CEO wants their pay to rise, they’ll need to lift the wages of their lowest-paid employees. It’s not about attacking high earners – it’s about fairness. If everyone’s contributing to an organisation’s doing well, everyone should benefit. So find some other people in your organisation who would back the idea – union members are often good for this kind of thing – and start raising the issue.

Join a timebank

In a timebank, every hour of work you do in your community earns you an hour’s credit towards someone doing work for you – and everybody’s hour is valued the same, no matter what their skills are. This equality, and the reciprocity of swapping work, make timebanking a small but tangible way to ensure everyone is on the same level. Lyttleton’s much-admired timebank, which helped its community deal with the devastation of the 2011 earthquake, is one of the best-known examples.