The number of New Zealanders eligible for legal aid has plummeted from an estimated 1.2 million in 2007 to 400,000, RNZ reveals. A solo parent with one child, working full time for minimum wage is considered too wealthy to qualify for civil or family legal aid, as is a single person working 23 hours a week for minimum wage. Elderly beneficiaries also don’t make the cut. Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann says the “justice gap” between those eligible for legal aid and people who can afford a lawyer is growing. In her view, the legal aid system is already broken and in danger of collapsing if nothing is done to fix it.
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