Must Do Better: New Zealand's Disappointing Report Card Results stuff nation video


New Zealand is ranked 34th out of 41 OECD and EU countries.

OPINION: As New Zealanders, we pride ourselves on being among the world's best at lots of things: Rugby. Airlines. Scenery. Seafood.

If only we were as good at children.

But we're not.

Julia Alatina (18 months) at the boarding house where she lives with her family.

Julia Alatina (18 months) at the boarding house where she lives with her family.

That's the sobering finding of UNICEF's Innocenti Report Card for 2016, a global survey measuring how well New Zealand cares for its children, compared with 41 other OECD/EU nations.

* Kiwi kids languishing compared to other developed nations 
* Kiwi teen suicide rate among world's worst 
Why Stuff is working with Unicef New Zealand 
18-month-old Julia, the innocent face of modern NZ's brutal, archaic boarding houses
* Skip a coffee, save a life

New Zealand was 34th. Back of the pack. Failing.

The proportion of children living in jobless households in New Zealand is almost twice as high as the report average.

The proportion of children living in jobless households in New Zealand is almost twice as high as the report average.

The Innocenti report measures how well countries perform on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, a UN target that New Zealand, along with every other country in the report, signed up to. This report focuses on the goals relating to how well we care for our children.

While there were certainly some bright spots, and lots of improvements, the report shows huge areas of concern. In Good Health and Wellbeing - which measures things like teen pregnancy, youth suicide, newborn deaths, and mental health symptoms - New Zealand was 38th, in front of just Bulgaria and Chile.

It's often said New Zealand is a great place to raise children. But is it a great place to grow up in? Sadly, Innocenti's Report Card suggests that for many children, it is definitely not.

In the Good Health and Wellbeing category, New Zealand came 38th - in front of just Bulgaria and Chile.

In the Good Health and Wellbeing category, New Zealand came 38th - in front of just Bulgaria and Chile.

You'd probably expect high-income nations to perform better for their children, and it's true that for some children, living in a place like New Zealand provides opportunities that children in poorer countries only dream about. But surely the greatest thing about New Zealand having a high-income is the capability to ensure these opportunities exist for all children in our nation.

Ad Feedback

When the economic well-being of our nation doesn't reflect the well-being of every child, it shows a picture of an economy that's been drawn just for today. We need to wake up and look at the longer term.

Our level of income poverty is roughly average (1 in 5) but our adolescent suicide rate (15.6 per 100,000) is the highest on the table. More New Zealand youth are killing themselves than any other country in the report - 15.6 children out of every 100,000. That's more than five times that of the UK (3.0) and nine times more than Portugal's rate (1.7).

New Zealand's child-homicide rate is 7th highest and our proportion of children living in jobless households is almost twice as high as the report average.

These are not good things to be leading the world in.

Perhaps saddest of all the data shown by the report card is the data not shown, because we don't provide it. When it comes to "multi-dimensional poverty" (or what the Ministry of Social Development calls "material hardship") New Zealand has no data. Neither does it have data on how many children are lifted out of poverty through welfare; on gender inequality; on women reporting experiences of physical violence as children; on child obesity; on adolescent mental health; on experiences of drunkenness; and experiences of bullying.

We don't know these things, but they are all things that any high-income nation has the means to measure. And measuring a problem is an indication of how much attention is being paid to that problem.

Given our government's adoption of a "social investment" approach, you'd think that collecting that information would be a high priority for our leaders to pay attention to.

What is "social investment" if it doesn't pay attention to all those things that indicate well-being for our children?

And what good is the current economic well-being of our high-income nation, if it doesn't reflect universal well-being for every child? It is a short term view of economy that loses sight of the future benefits that equal opportunity affords.

As a small, high-income nation, New Zealand can introduce measures that lift every child out of poverty. That is, if we really want to.

There are many areas we're not doing well. Obesity. Poverty and material hardship. Infant mortality. Opportunity. But it's youth suicide where we draw the blackest mark.

We have the opportunity to change that.

And become known as a nation where the lives of our young people are celebrated, not mourned.

Dr Prudence Stone is UNICEF NZ's National Advocacy Manager

This article was supplied as part of Stuff's partnership with Unicef NZ. Unicef stands up for every child so they can have a childhood. Find out more at

* Comments on this article have been closed.

 - Stuff


Ad Feedback
special offers

Indecent acts caught on camera

An aisle at the public Botany Library where one of the indecent acts was committed.

Two quick-thinking Auckland women whipped out their smartphones to film a man allegedly exposing himself in public places.

1000 homes or millionaire playground?

Moving the rural urban boundary would allow for a 1000-house development adjacent to the marine reserve.

Massive development beside pristine Auckland marine reserve better than council's gated community, developer says.

Aucklanders face slow commutes

Traffic was congested on State Highway 20 after a crash.

Crashes, breakdowns and train faults could lead to traffic chaos.

Surf lifesavers' contributions recognised

Orewa's Faron Turner.

North Auckland surf lifesavers get recognition.


RocketLab makes it pay

Rocket Lab is planning a launch next month from the Māhia Peninsula.

The first one failed but the next test launch from the Māhia Peninsula will carry satellites.

'A lovely, caring man'

Sid Hanzlik, who died after a small fire outside parliament, is understood to have been aggrieved after dealings with ...

Neighbour tells of shock at death of Sid Hanzlik after fire on Parliament grounds.

Where is Lester on Shelly Bay?

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester will not vote on any Shelly Bay issues because one of the developers contributed $2000 to ...

Wellington mayor has stood aside from voting on one of the city's biggest issues.

Porirua fears Gully link road chaos

Construction of Kenepuru interchange as part of the Transmission Gully motorway.

Businesses warn of "nightmare" on "seriously dangerous" Kenepuru Drive.


Running club nightmares

When my boss volunteered me for the run, I thought a couple of hikes in the hills would make for some great Instagrams. ...

One outing in my spandex completely negates the horrific things I did to my body all week.

Truck blocks SH7

Motorists travelling through the Lewis Pass should expect lengthy delays after a truck crash on Wednesday morning. (File ...

Motorists travelling through the Lewis Pass should expect lengthy delays after a truck and trailer rolled.

Gloriavale charges laid

Gloriavale women and girls.

A member of the isolated community is charged with sexual violation and indecent assault.

Ill rocker's show cut short

Former Deep Purple rocker Glenn Hughes' show at Horncastle Arena was cut short on Tuesday night.

Ex-Deep Purple bassist "resting" after possible "medical event" during Chch show.


Go on, have a decent lunch

When Noel Cimadom saw the 1908 Cambridge post office site, he changed his to plan to move closer to Auckland, to open ...

Italian who brought a bit of Europe into Cambridge's historic post office offers some perspective.

Trio in serious crash

Hamilton City councillors Mark Bunting, James Casson, and Dave Macpherson got frustrated with the slow process and put ...

Man cut free of Honda Integra wreckage after latest smash at notorious intersection.

Wild weather turns radio off

Commuters are being advised to take care on their way home.

Multiple radio stations in Waikato are off the air, after a transmission tower was damaged.

Mayor scuttles property biz

Hamilton City councillors voted against bringing back the council property company which developed central city sites ...

King makes second - successful - bid to stop the property development company restarting.


A socially challenging job

Artist Paul Rangiwahia has been invited to speak at Taranaki Base Hospital in conjunction with Social Workers Day.

Death, illness and abuse and grief are all part of the job for a hospital social worker.

Fireworks cause panic

The future of a popular fireworks night in South Taranaki is in the hands of an independent commissioner.

The public Guy Fawkes' display was so loud a herd of calves stampeded and some injured themselves, one fatally, a farmer claimed.

Fight for flower power

19092017   News   photo: Warwick Smith/Stuff
Orchid grower Alan Rae in his propagation shelter amongst his cymbidium ...

 OPINION: Where does your florist source their flowers?

Flooding on roads

A slip covered the south bound lane of SH3 near Waverley on Tuesday afternoon.

"It's covered most of the south bound lane in dirt and rocks."


Pedalling a green dream

Green Bikes general manager Peter Cooke likes giving old bicycles a new lease of life.

Meet the man giving new life to old bikes in Palmerston North.

Scarce on detail video

Contractors fix the damaged Manawatū Gorge road in May, before it was deemed unsafe for workers.

About 300 people attended a meeting in Woodville to discuss gorge alternatives.

Motorist kills sheep

State Highway 2 was blocked near Pahiatua by a crash on Tuesday evening.

A car crash near Palmerston North left sheep dead. The driver was unharmed.

Putting NZ First

Don't dare ask Winston Peters who he's going to choose to be New Zealand's next Government. There are democratic ...

OPINION: Peters' plan to follow a "democratic process" is the biggest untruth of them all.


Farmers' Market heads riverside

Miriam Clark, manager of Nelson Farmers Market, in Morrison Square.

Nelson's Farmers' Market is to shift from the CBD to a new riverside location.

Street upgrade overrun

Poppy Thai owner Pobsak Srithong says he has paid the debt he owed to his landlord.

A revised construction programme for Queen St upgrade at Richmond has been released.

Mayor's 'talk' over councillor's blog

Mayor Richard Kempthorne says no other action is planned over the blog.

Cr Dean McNamara gets a talk from Tasman mayor over allegations in his blog.

Ice pilot Leachman laid to rest

The acting Chief of the Royal New Zealand Navy James Gilmour, left, and fellow Navy officers salute the late Andrew ...

Friends and family of Andrew Leachman farewelled a man whose life was as musical as it was nautical.


Man faces 65 drugs charges

Ricky Michael Boyd, 27, has been charged with offering to sell drugs several times a week over about five months. (File ...

He allegedly offered to sell meth and cannabis several times a week for months.

Battle to save the park

Marlborough Sounds ward councillors have convinced the Marlborough District Council to put the proposed truck park out ...

There are more trucks hanging about Picton and plans are in place to pave over a park. Not everyone is happy.

Driver trapped after truck rolls

Fire crews are working to free the person trapped after a truck and trailer unit rolled.

The driver of a truck and trailer unit became trapped after rolling their vehicle north of Kaikoura.

Pay win becomes a loss

Aberleigh Rest Home, in Blenheim, sent a letter to staff last month announcing its restructure plans.

Care workers jobs to go after equal pay win, replaced by "home assistants". Rest home says it's all it can afford.

South Canterbury

Grand response limited video

Timaru's 105-year-old Hydro Grand Hotel, owned by developer Allan Booth, has been called unsafe as it awaits demolition.

Dangerous designation appears no automatic move to demolition.

Reports 'tip of iceberg'

Raising awareness around elder abuse will help increase the number of reported incidences of abuse, Templeton says.

Age Concern establishes new elder abuse role following concerns of unreported abuse.

Swooping magpies concern

Shirley Halkett is dive bombed by a protective magpie while cycling in the Scenic Reserve.

Cyclists call for signage warning of the dangers of nesting magpies in a Timaru reserve.

Family violence a major issue

Councillor Steve Wills said family violence was a major issue in South Canterbury.

Steve Wills has been appointed South Canterbury's first White Ribbon Ambassador.


Petrol prices soar over main centres

Petrol prices in the Southern Lakes average about 23 cents a litre higher than in the North Island.

"The fundamental price of fuel is the same across the board. They'll charge what they can."

Car parking restrictions coming

Queenstown Lakes District Council proposed to build three new bus stops on Camp St, two near Shotover St roundabout.

"To make transport more efficient, economic and possibly more enjoyable, a behavioural change is required." Tony Pickard

Exit package prompts questions

Under-fire Aurora Energy chief executive Grady Cameron.

Dunedin councillors have questioned a golden handshake to an outgoing chief executive of an under-fire lines company.

Premises needed for Frankton library

There's a "real desire" for a library in Frankton, Queenstown Lakes District Council say.

Expression of interest for a short-term Frankton Library in Queenstown is open.


Deveron St groups make their case

Number 10 youth leader Emma Prinsloo, on right, with youth behind her making their case to councillors.

Invercargill citizens have restated their pleas to save the youth centre at 10 Deveron St at an Invercargill City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Rough waters

Federated Farmers representatives speak to their submission on the Proposed Southland Water and Land Plan at Environment ...

Legal challenges are "inevitable" if the proposed Water and Land Plan goes ahead.

New crossing under trial

Civil Works and Construction Ltd, of Christchurch, works on the new trial pedestrian crossing at James Hargest College ...

Now you see it - now you see it.

Volunteers earn their reward

South Alive manager Cress Evans, community development coordinator Nikki Aaron and chairperson Robyn Hickman with the ...

South Alive say it was the hard work of their volunteers that saw them win the supreme award at the Trust Power Awards in Invercargill.

Ad Feedback