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Muriel Tunoho and Lyndy McIntyre at the Power to Win book launch

On Thursday 4 July, we launched Power to Win: The Living Wage Movement in Aotearoa New Zealand by Lyndy McIntyre at Unity Books Wellington. The shop was packed and we had fantastic speeches from Sue Wootton, Lyndy McIntyre and Nyakuong Kuach. A huge thank you to everyone who came to the launch to help us celebrate.

We'd also like to thank the Living Wage Movement Aotearoa for supporting this launch and Karma Drinks for donating some delicious beverages for the launch. And thank you to Unity Books Wellington for being excellent hosts and the Brass Razoo Solidarity Band for playing for us outside Unity on the night.

Thank you also to Rebecca Macfie for launching the book and giving a moving speech. Here's her speech from the night:

Tēnā koutou katoa
Tēnā koe e Mark ki tōu mihi whakatau.
Tēnā koutou e ngā kaimahi o Unity i tā tātau manaakitanga.
Tēnā koe e Sue i tōu mahi me awhi i tēnei pukapuka.
Tēnā koutou e ngā kaimahi o te Living Wage Movement.
Tēnā koutou e hoa mā

Lyndy McIntyre guestsThank you all for being here to welcome and celebrate this book.

First I want to deliver Lyndy a message from Lee Slater, a brilliant indexer who produced the index for Power to Win. If you are a reader of New Zealand non-fiction you are very likely to have benefited from Lee’s work. He and his equally brilliant partner Sarah Bennett couldn’t be here tonight.

Lyndy, what a pleasure it was to work with you on this book, to learn about the living wage movement and to make a fine new friend.

Congratulations not just for documenting the movement and its admirable characters in an easy-to-read, entertaining fashion, but also for shining a bright light on the value of collectivism, and the importance of recognising and formalising the roles of community organisers.

In a world where people seem increasingly isolated and disempowered, the job of pulling people together, keeping them together and helping them be heard feels essential in the fight to overcome inequality and inequity.

Organising like this is a kind of alchemy, a process that turns alienation into connection, despair into dedication and oppression into strength.

Guest at Power to Win launchWorking on Power to Win has affected me greatly and inspired me to keep collectivism, fairness and hope front and centre in everything I now do. Ngā mihi nui Lyndy and everyone involved with the living wage movement, you’re the epitome of real people doing real things in the real world, effecting real, long-lasting change. 

Lee’s words give you a real sense of the calibre of this book, this woman, and this movement.

It started thirteen years ago when John Ryall said “I have an idea”, and like all of John’s ideas, it was visionary, daring, and anchored in a sense of justice.

“Power to Win” is a beautiful memoir of the beautiful movement that grew from that idea.

It’s a story of fierce hope, deep alliances, smart strategy, and a willingness of many many people to work tirelessly, on multiple fronts, for wages that people can live decent lives on.

Wages that don’t have to be topped up by food parcels, a second or third job, or by school kids working until midnight stacking shelves so help mum and dad can pay the rent. Wages that pay for what everyone is entitled to: decent housing, decent food, time for family, community and recreation. Time for citizenship.

Lyndy at Power to Win LaunchPower to Win is a story of innovation, creativity, productivity and capacity-building. It’s a story of aspiration, global collaboration, and true democracy. You could call it, dare I say – at the risk of being thrown out of here – a story of true, genuine Social Investment!

You will read here of the meticulous and targeted work of activists and organisers being carried out in church halls – a lot of church halls! – in council annual plan hearings, league clubrooms and training workshops, in election forums.... and on the streets.

12 years ago, no-one in New Zealand knew what a “living wage” was. David Farrar of Kiwiblog called it a “so-called Living Wage”. Damning.

The Taxpayers Union wrote a big report attacking it, no doubt at considerable cost. The Wellington Chamber of Commerce was allergic to the idea of it, and threatened the Wellington City Council with litigation when it voted to become a Living Wage employer.

But this is a movement of shared values, solidarity and action. It’s also a movement of stories – of people speaking about their lives and about the consequences of not having enough. Of working so hard on poverty wages that they hardly get to see their kids or their partners.

Speakers at Power to Win launchThe Living Wage is now part of our vocabulary. Those two words carry power, and they have helped shape how we collectively think about the value of work.

So, to Lyndy: thank you for being such a fundamental part of this movement, and for being a brilliant organiser. And for writing this book.

I know what it took to see it through to today.

Thank you for getting up every day and plunging into the ocean 365 days a year or thereabouts, and heading up to your shed and getting this wonderful story down. Thank you for being vibrant, generous, loyal and determined.

To Sue Wooten and OUP, thank you for choosing to publish this book, and for seeing its importance to Aotearoa New Zealand.

And to the workers, organisers, faith and civic leaders, unionists, and business owners who have commited to this movement and shown that when people come together, they have power for good -------You are an inspiration.

Thanks to you all.

Launch photos by Jason Fell.

Find out more about Power to Win

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