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Children's Commissioner - Targeted Action Needed To Address Child Poverty Right Now

The child poverty statistics in the NZ 2022 Household Economic Survey show no annual change in the year ended June 2022. Again, we see Māori, Pacific and disabled children are disproportionately impacted by poverty in Aotearoa.

The Children’s Commissioner, Judge Frances Eivers, said today that the StatsNZ data reinforced the findings of the recent Child Poverty Monitor.

Judge Eivers said, “While in broad terms the Government’s efforts to date have improved conditions for many, we cannot ignore the fact that specific groups of children and their families are still being left behind.

The Commissioner pointed to data showing that while it appears the percentages of Māori and Pacific children living in material hardship have dropped since 2019 - to 18.8 and 25.6 percent respectively, these percentages are not significantly different from 2019. In contrast, the percentage for all children living in material hardship was significantly lower at 10.3 percent.

“The disparity should make us all pause and think – what more needs to be done? How can we make sure that every single child in Aotearoa has what they need, and are entitled to, for a good childhood?

“We need to welcome what we’ve achieved so far, with a significant reduction in 2018, but acknowledge that progress has slowed. The Government has still not met a key target of 10.5% in low-income households before deducting housing costs. If we want to meet the Government’s own

poverty targets, we need a concerted and continued effort to achieve better outcomes for a number of groups.”

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“Mokopuna Māori are more than two times likely than Pākehā children to be living with material hardship, and Pacific children are more than three times likely in material hardship than Pākehā children.

“One in five disabled children (20.5%) live in households experiencing material hardship, which is more than double the rate for non-disabled children (9.7%).

“I strongly believe the answers lie in agencies working more closely with whānau, hapū and iwi, community leaders, and NGO’s. These groups are trusted by Māori and Pacific communities that simply do not trust government agencies, and as a result either don’t reach out for help, or aren’t comfortably sharing fully details of their true situation. Every community knows who needs assistance and how best to deliver that.

“We cannot and should not leave some children behind when we can work together to find solutions within their communities.

“The impact of doing nothing is too great. We need to make sure no child experiences the insecurity and stress, hunger and lack of heating, stigma and shame, difficulty accessing education and health services associated with poverty.

“We can celebrate our achievements to date without fooling ourselves that the job is done. We all need to look to how we care and nurture our children, their childhood is the key to their future and the future of Aotearoa.”

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