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New report reveals brown social underclass in New Zealand


Media release

Embargoed to 5am, Friday 2 Sept 2011

1000 days to get it right for every child:
New report reveals brown social underclass in New Zealand

A report on Māori and Pasifika child poverty shows that just over half of the 200,000 New Zealand children living below the poverty line, are Māori (59,651) and Pasifika (44,120).

“This report provides the first comprehensive overview of data on Māori and Pasifika children and it makes for sobering reading,” says Every Child Counts* (ECC) spokesperson and Chair of Te Kahui Mana Ririki Dr Hone Kaa.

“Māori and Pasifika have hardship rates two to three times higher than other groups. They are more likely than other groups to live in over-crowded households. Māori and Pasifika children have two to three times poorer health than other groups, with Māori children more likely to be admitted to hospital as a result of assault, neglect or maltreatment and Pasifika children more likely to be admitted to hospital with a medical condition related to poverty.

“Māori and Pasifika populations are youthful and the populations are growing. Within the next two decades, two in five New Zealand children will be Māori and Pasifika. So if present trends in Māori and Pasifika poverty continue, we are witnessing the development of a brown social underclass in New Zealand; with the potential to create significant social and economic problems.”

The report ‘He Ara Hou – The Pathway Forward’ has been authored by the University of Auckland, and was commissioned as part of ECC’s campaign ‘1000 days to get it right for every child’. The report complements the report ‘The economic cost of public investment in New Zealand children’ published by ECC in August, which estimated the cost of poor child outcomes at 3% of Gross Domestic Product ($6b) per annum.

“Apart from giving an overview of the health and wellbeing of Māori and Pasifika children, the report argues that current measurements of wellbeing for these children are flawed,” says ECC spokesperson and Plunket’s Chief Executive Officer Jenny Prince.

“We tend to measure wellbeing for these children by comparing them to other groups. We need to develop culturally specific measures for Māori and Pasifika. What do Māori and Pasifika peoples consider to be achievement? What is important to them? So Māori and Pasifika wellbeing is then measured against what they consider to be a good life.”

“We welcome this report, and we are keen to participate in any solutions developed in response to the report,” says Sam Sefuiva, Principal Advisor from the Human Rights Commission.

“We need to weave Pasifika values into our policy and planning. Like Māori, our world view is holistic and we are forever conscious of the wellbeing of the collective. Current measures which focus on individual achievement and wellbeing do not resonate with us.”

ECC would like to see a Taskforce on Māori and Pasifika Children established to deal with some of the issues raised in the report.

“A positive finding from the report is the steadily increasing educational achievement of Māori and Pasifika children,” says ECC spokesperson and Director of Te Kahui Mana Ririki Anton Blank.

“Most Māori children attend schools, polytechnics, and universities where a Māori dimension is added onto an existing framework, which shows how successful culturally specific solutions can be.

“A Taskforce on Māori and Pasifika Children would draw together Māori and Pasifika expertise, and develop solutions for Māori and Pasifika wellbeing. Māori and Pasifika populations are youthful and growing. The need is urgent and we must act quickly.”


* Every Child Counts is a coalition of organisations and individuals working to improve the status and wellbeing of New Zealand children. It is driven by Barnardos, Plunket, UNICEF NZ, Save the Children and Te Kahui Mana Ririki. www.everychildcounts.org.nz


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