Risk That Child Poverty Is Becoming Ingrained
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, the Catholic Bishops' agency for justice, peace and development, is concerned that the latestchild poverty numbers show that there has been anincrease in material hardship,with 4100 more children living in homes that are without fresh fruit or vegetables, putting off a visit to the doctor, or not being able to pay bills on time.
The housing shortage continues to create barriers for families trying to overcome poverty. The just released Statistics NZ survey* shows that after housing costs are taken into account, the percentage of children living in poverty is 21 percent – down two percent to about one in five children.
"There is still a huge amount to be done before we are even close to providing an opportunity for all New Zealand children to flourish," says Caritas Director Julianne Hickey.
The figures also showed that almost one in four Māori children were living in households facing material hardship - about 23 percent. That figure was higher for Pacific children at close to 29 percent. That compared to about one in 10 for New Zealand European children.
"The fact that so many Māori and Pacific children face material hardship should be a real cause for concern and for action among political leaders. Active participation of tangata whenua will be imperative in designing effective solutions. Such solutions will be key in overcoming what are becoming ingrained hardships," says Mrs Hickey.
"New Zealanders have long held a vision of an egalitarian society where anyone could succeed. That vision is being eclipsed by unaffordable costs for housing, food and healthcare. Māori and Pacific children are not being treated justly if they do not have fair access to the necessities of life. We are at risk of creating deeply ingrained social problems that will blight the futures of so many children and could undermine both the common good and social cohesion," says Mrs Hickey.
* Thesurvey was taken between July 2018 and June 2019, and people were asked to providetheir income level for the year prior, meaning the impact of the July 2018 Families Package will not be visible in the numbers for up to 18 months.