2 December 2014
Public health doctors welcome Child Poverty Monitor
report and warn against complacency
The New Zealand College of Public Health
Medicine has welcomed a report which shows there has been a small
reduction in the number of children living in poverty, but says
much work still needs to be done.
The newly published Child Poverty Monitor 2014 notes a reduction
from 27% to 24% of children in households living in relative
"But this means that one in four of New Zealand
children are missing out on a good start in life. We cannot be
complacent about this slight reduction. There are still far too
many children living in hardship and they need to be our priority",
says NZ College of Public Health Medicine president, Dr Caroline
"It is not acceptable to have 34% of tamariki
Māori and 28% of Pacific children living in poor households
compared with 16% of children of European heritage".
The College says the social and economic
consequences of not taking action to reduce child poverty in New
Zealand are too costly for everyone.
"To reduce child poverty, we need a national cross-sectoral
strategy embedded in legislation, with measurable targets that are
monitored. In particular we need to reduce hardship amongst Māori
and Pacific children, and see priority given to very young and
those living in persistent material poverty.
Consideration should be given to healthy and affordable housing,
high quality maternity and child health services, quality early
childhood education, and good quality nutrition in
"This may require society to re-consider its spending
priorities, as currently kiwi kids are more than twice as likely to
be in poverty than our senior citizens" says Dr McElnay.
"Poverty is an overwhelming and pervasive factor
in preventable diseases, injuries, disability, and death for
children in NZ. It is a persistent problem for New Zealand with
long term risks to the health and prosperity of all New
"By eliminating poverty and supporting the health of NZ's
children, we will build a stronger foundation for the health and
wellbeing of our whole population".
The NZ College of Public Health Medicine Child Poverty and Health
policy statement can be downloaded here.