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Child poverty statistics unacceptable

28 February, 2014

Child poverty statistics unacceptable

The number of children living in poverty should be unacceptable for all New Zealanders, a leading child health researcher says.

Dr Leonie Pihama from the University of Waikato’s Te Kotahi Research Centre, says the revised Treasury and Statistics NZ figures released this week, which put 285,000 New Zealand children living in poverty, were appalling.

Dr Pihama and Dr Jenny Lee are leading a Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga-funded research project ‘Tiakina Te Pa Harakeke’ which is exploring traditional Māori views and practices of childrearing.

She says it is time “people stood up and privileged the rights of tamariki in Aotearoa and to do that in any way possible”.

“That includes making all political parties provide clear and specific ways that they are going to intervene.”

In an election year this will clearly be a critical issue, she says.

“2014 is the 20th Anniversary of the International Year of the Family, and we are allowing so many whānau to struggle day to day, it is appalling,” says Dr Pihama.

Dr Pihama and her team held a symposium to discuss research findings recently at the Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development.

The symposium highlighted a need for governments to prioritise the wellbeing of whānau over the current neo-liberal drive that benefits only a small number of elites.

“It was clearly stated that there must be some active interventions in regards to poverty,” she says.

“There needs to be a fundamental move back to collective wellbeing over and above the individualistic economic drive we are seeing promoted by the current Government.”

Symposium participant Marama Davidson says while the National Party is premising its election year campaign on the economy, figures show there is a lack of collective caring as a nation in the way we uphold whānau.

“Child poverty is an act of whānau violence perpetuated by the government,” she says.

“What would be normally do to abusers? We would remove them.”

ENDS

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