Equality, Family and child, News

Monitor reveals a quarter of NZ children live in poverty

The release, on Monday 9 December, of the first annual monitor of child poverty shows that one in four children* in Aotearoa New Zealand live in income poverty.  One in six live without basic essentials like fresh fruit and vegetables, a warm house, decent shoes and visits to the doctor. It has long been known that child poverty creates life-long health issues. According to Iain Hines, Executive Director of the J R McKenzie Trust child poverty today is twice that of the 1980s.  “If New Zealand’s road toll was twice that of the ‘80s ther would be outrage and immediate action taken to reduce it.  We need the same momentum and action on child poverty.” Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills says the project is about giving New Zealanders the full picture on child poverty and to get New Zealanders talking about it.  “Child poverty hurts all of us. It harms the individual child and it has substantial long-term costs to society. If we want to be a thriving, progressive and successful country – we’re not going to get there with 25 percent of our kids in poverty,” he says. The Child Poverty Monitor is a joint project by the Children’s Commissioner, J R McKenzie Trust and Otago University’s NZ Child and Youth Epidemiology Service (NZCYES). For the next five years it will publish four measures of child poverty: income poverty, material hardship, severe poverty and persistent poverty. The initiative aims to raise awareness of the problem and monitor New Zealand’s progress in reducing each of these measures. The Monitor is supported by an extensive technical report.   More information on child poverty and health can be found in our Children and Young People section.  

Key findings of the Child Poverty Monitor 2013:

Income poverty: 265,000 children (one in four)*. This looks at the amount of money families have to pay bills and purchase everyday essentials. This is defined as having less than 60% of median household income, after housing costs are removed. Material hardship: 180,000 children (17%). This means regularly going without things most New Zealanders consider essential – like fruit and vegetables, shoes that fit, their own bed and a warm house. Severe poverty: 10% of children. This means they are going without the things they need and their low family income means they don’t have any opportunity of changing this. These are the children experiencing material hardship and who are in families in income poverty. Persistent poverty: 3 out of 5 children in poverty are in poverty for long periods. These children are likely to live in poverty for many years of their childhoods. Persistent poverty is defined as having lived in income poverty over a seven year period. Visit our Children and Young People section to read more, including reports from the Children’s Commissioner and a report from the Public Health Advisory committee.   * Following the discovery of a data error at Statistics New Zealand and Treasury, these figures have now been revised: Income poverty is now recognised as affecting 285,000 children.  Read more about this error.         Published: 10 December 2013 Jo Lawrence-King