Mind the gap - a city of two halves

00:20, Aug 15 2014
Matt Smyth and four kids
BUSY LIFE: Matt Smyth and his kids from left Sarah 14, Neo 11, Matua 3 and Morgana 17.

Matt Smyth can't let his children play in the street because he fears his neighbourhood has been taken over by gangs and drug dealers.

Across town, the Kay family allow their children to roam the neighbourhood.

It is a major difference in the lives of children in Christchurch's contrasting rich and poor neighbourhoods.

The Kay family live in the least deprived, or richest, street in Christchurch, while the Smyths live in the most deprived block, according to new research by the University of Otago.

The Kays, in Aidenfield in western Christchurch, have two children, Eden, 7, and Bethany, 11.

Matt Smyth, in Avonside in the east, has four children, Morgana, 17, Sarah, 14, Neo, 11, and Matiu, 3.


Tammy Kay said her two children could play freely in the streets. "We always encourage the kids to ... get out and ride their bikes.

"The kids are often out around the neighbourhood doing stuff. I don't have concerns about them going out and doing their own thing, but they need to stay in this area. It is really safe here and it is really nice with the parks."

Matt Smyth does not let his two youngest children play in the street.

"I don't feel comfortable with them just going out and playing by themselves. There is a lot of drug dealing that goes on around here," he said.

"If they want to head to the park, I will head along with them. They can't go out on their own because I don't have confidence in who they will end up hanging out with."

University of Otago academic Peter Crampton is the co-author of research mapping the most deprived parts of the country.

He said families with children were more likely to live in the poorest parts of New Zealand.

"That is a reflection of the fact that over several generations social policy work has tended to maintain the elderly out of poverty but not such a protective affect on children.

"It comes down to the broad politics of it all. Children don't vote and young families are less politically engaged."

Crampton's research compares census data to define the levels of deprivation across New Zealand.

One-parent families are more common in the poorest parts of Christchurch.

About 35 per cent of families in private homes in the most deprived areas of Christchurch are single parent, compared to about 9 per cent in the least deprived areas of the city.

Click here for an interactive graphic detailing more about how we live in Christchurch.

The Press