There's been a fair amount of discussion about the pros and cons of the DPB following release of Lindsay Mitchell's report on Maori and welfare.
I think we need to take a wider view of the DPB and relationships than just focussing on Maori.
Before the advent of the DPB in the 1970s leaving a marriage was almost unthinkable. Divorce was socially unacceptable and a fast route to social ostracism. There was minimal obligation for the spouse leaving the relationship to support the partner left behind with the children - usually the wife.
In speaking with many people who married in the 1940s and 50s, it is clear that almost all of those marriages went - sometimes several times - through extremely sticky patches. Most of those people said that if a financial alternative had been available, as it is now, they would have left their spouse.
Because there was no other alternative they had to find a way of patching up their relationship and moving on. And most of these relationships ended many, many years later with the death of one of the spouses and celebration of a long marriage.
We need more support for couples going through sticky patches. It would be a good investment: divorce, possibly DPB, child support, etc, and dislocated children are very expensive for the parties involved and often for the State.
Until the mid 1970s, if you got pregnant outside wedlock you had two alternatives: get married or go "up north for a while" and have the baby adopted out at birth.
I suspect, although I have no research to support this, that those children who were adopted out in earlier times very possibly had a better life than some of the children born to young teenage mothers, who are often ill-equipped to becoming mothers and providing financial support. And may well need the DPB.
The abortion debate is again being revisited. It seems to me that some women are using the abortion service as a contraceptive ambulance-at-the-bottom-of-the-cliff. How about taking some action to not get pregnant in the first place?
As a teenager in the 1960s I well understood the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. And understood the consequences of stepping over these boundaries.
Maybe it's time society came up with some new and appropriate moral and ethical boundaries instead of the current anything-goes, me, me, me vacuum that is our contemporary society.
It will be interesting to see what social historians make of all this 25 years from now.