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Children in Poverty Must Be Allowed A Voice In Their Future

Maori and Pasifika children living under the poverty line must be allowed a voice in their future, Save the Children New Zealand says

A report released today by the organisation Every Child Counts has found that of the 200,000 Kiwi kids living below the poverty line, just over half are Maori and Pasifika - 59,651 Maori and 44,120 Pasifika respectively.

Among other findings the report - ‘He Ara Hou – The Pathway Forward’ - stated that Maori and Pasifika have a high dependency on benefits, high rates of single parenthood and a concentration of workers in the manufacturing industries, which keeps families trapped in poverty.

Board Chair of Save the Children New Zealand Vivien Sutherland Bridgwater says that the report provides the first comprehensive overview of data on Maori and Pasifika children and clearly outlines the facts.

“Maori and Pasifika populations have hardship rates two to three times higher than other groups. They are more likely than other groups to live in over-crowded households and experience signficantly poorer health, educational and social outcomes. All of this is creating a social underclass in our country,” Ms Sutherland Bridgwater says.

“I welcome this report and also call on all government and community stakeholders to listen to what children themselves feel are the most pressing issues. They must be consulted in any policies that will affect them.

“Last year Save the Children New Zealand commissioned the Hear Our Voices: We Entreat report which gave young people the opportunity to speak out and say what they believed needs to change. They, or people they know, are living with some of the issues related to this report. We must take on board their perspectives and allow them to contribute to some of the solutions.”

Key issues young New Zealanders said they were most concerned about in Save the Children New Zealand’s Hear Our Voices: We Entreat report included:

• Gang violence and recruitment

• Bullying – particularly of specific groups like refugee and migrant young people

• Child abuse

• Domestic violence which affects the lives of many children and young people

Every Child Counts is composed of the children's organizations Save the Children New Zealand, Barnardos NZ, Royal New Zealand Plunket Society, UNICEF and the Institute of Public Policy at AUT University.

The Hear Our Voices: We Entreat report is available at http://www.savethechildren.org.nz/assets/59/HearOurVoices2010.pdf

Note to the editor: Save the Children is the world's leading independent organisation for children with members in 29 countries making a difference to children's lives in over 120 countries, including New Zealand and the Pacific. Save the Children's vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.

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