'Significant, enduring' child poverty in New Zealand according to Child Poverty Monitor

New Zealand has a goal to halve poverty by 2030.
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New Zealand has a goal to halve poverty by 2030.

New Zealand child poverty has hit a "crisis" point according to Auckland City Mission CEO Chris Farrelly and we "need to take action". 

New Zealand's child poverty rates aren't greatly improving but we are starting to "wake up to the serious problem", results from the 2016 Child Poverty Monitor show.

The monitor, released on Tuesday morning, shows 90,000 kids are living in severe poverty.

Fourteen per cent of children are living in material hardship where they are living without seven or more necessary items for their wellbeing and 28 per cent of children are living in low income homes, up from 14 per cent in 1982. 

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"We do have a crisis. It's not a catastrophe where we're going to be completely swamped by it and we can do this if we set ourselves targets," Farrelly said.

He said we are on a journey to end child poverty in New Zealand, not manage it.

Creating a plan to reduce the number of children in poverty in New Zealand must be a priority if we are going to prevent a third generation of children in poverty, Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft said.

"This is not the New Zealand I grew up in nor is it the New Zealand most of us want. The cold reality today is that between 85,000 to 90,000 children under 18 years old at least are in severe and profound and deep poverty," Becroft said.

"It's a situation that has been around for 20 years. This Child Poverty Monitor says today it has got no worse but it has not got significantly better.

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"I accept it's not the sort of abject poverty you see on the banks of the Ganges River - but it's not what we want for our children. It is significant, enduring and seriously affects a child's ability to grow."

Child poverty has been identified by New Zealanders in recent opinion polls as one of the most significant issues facing our country.

"New Zealanders are starting to wake up to the serious problem we face. We are in real danger of creating pockets of a third generation of ingrained poverty - which seriously impacts children's health, ability to learn and contribute to society."

New Zealand has a goal to halve all poverty by 2030.  

"To attain this goal within the next 14 years, we need a plan to reduce child poverty. It must be a government led plan all New Zealanders can work towards. It should involve business, community and non-government groups." 

Becroft's concern is that we are set to have another winter with children living in cars and marae having to take people in.

"Our monitor shows that New Zealand's lowest income earners are spending an average of 50 per cent of their income on housing.

"As the Auckland City Mission well knows, this means families are forced to line up for food banks and use emergency accommodation."

New Zealand Child and Youth Epidemiology Service director Dr Jean Simpson said living in poverty has serious implications for a child's health, well-being and life outcomes.

She said children living in the lowest income households were more likely to be living in crowded, damp and mouldy spaces, which can lead to illness.

"Research tells us that children living in the most disadvantaged communities are about 18 times more likely to miss out a visit to the GP when they are unwell due to a lack of transport to get there than those in the least disadvantaged communities.

"Reducing the number of young children living in poverty is critical to improving the health of the whole population," Simpson said.

BY THE NUMBERS 

* Fourteen per cent of children are living in material hardship where they are living without seven or more necessary items for their wellbeing.   

* Twenty-eight per cent of children are living in low income homes. 

* More than eight per cent of children are in severe poverty, experiencing material hardship and living in a low income household. 

* In 1982 the percentage of children in families experiencing income poverty was 14 per cent, compared to 28 per cent now.

 

 - Stuff

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