Today's release of the first annual monitor of child poverty
puts a spotlight on the thousands of Kiwi kids who aren't getting
the start to life they deserve.
The Child Poverty Monitor is a joint project by the Children's
Commissioner, J R McKenzie Trust and Otago University's NZ Child
and Youth Epidemiology Service (NZCYES). For the next five years it
will publish four measures of child poverty: income poverty,
material hardship, severe poverty and persistent poverty. The
initiative aims to raise awareness of the problem and monitor New
Zealand's progress in reducing each of these measures.
The 2013 Monitor shows that one in four Kiwi kids are growing up
in income poverty and one in six are going without the basic
essentials like fresh fruit and vegetables, a warm house, decent
shoes and visits to the doctor. Ten percent of children are at the
hardest end of poverty and three out of five kids living in poverty
will live this way for much of their childhood.
The data is backed up by an extensive report produced by the
NZCYES, the Child Poverty Monitor 2013: Technical Report, building
on the previous Children's Social Health Monitor.
Children's Commissioner Dr Russell Wills says the project is
about giving New Zealanders the full picture on child poverty rates
and to get Kiwis talking about it.
"265,000 New Zealand children are living in poverty. Is this
what we want for our kids? I would like to see this talked about in
homes, workplaces and schools across the country.
"Child poverty hurts all of us. It harms the individual child
and it has substantial long-term costs to society. If we want to be
a thriving, progressive and successful country - we're not going to
get there with 25 percent of our kids in poverty," Dr Wills
Dr Jean Simpson, the NZCYES's Director also stresses the
negative consequences of child poverty.
"Evidence tells us that high rates of child poverty are a
serious concern. Poverty reduces opportunities and can create
life-long health issues.
Dr Liz Craig, the NZCYES' Senior Clinical Epidemiologist agrees.
"The negative health outcomes associated with child poverty are
clearly highlighted in this year's technical report - in the form
of hospital admission for infectious and respiratory diseases.
These diseases include bronchiolitis, acute upper respiratory
infections, pneumonia and rheumatic fever, dermatitis and skin
infections. When one in four of our children are experiencing
poverty you can see how serious this is for our children and our
health system," she says.
The Child Poverty Monitor is funded by the J R McKenzie Trust,
an organisation with a long history of involvement in important
social issues. The Trust's Executive Director Iain Hines says they
initiated this project because they saw an opportunity to make a
difference for children missing out.
"We are concerned that the rate of child poverty in 2013 is
twice that of the 1980s. We think this is unacceptable. If New
Zealand's road toll was twice that of the 80s there would be
outrage and immediate action taken to reduce it. We need the same
momentum and action on child poverty.
"A lot of people are working to improve things for children; we
need to know if our collective efforts are making a difference or
not. We're making the data around the rates of child poverty
available and easy to understand with the help of a website and
"This issue needs to stay high on the public agenda, and an
accurate monitor of our progress will contribute to that," Iain