Topic: Welfare

Cautious optimism over child poverty report

By Wepiha Te Kanawa
  • Auckland

New Zealand Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft is cautiously optimistic about the findings of the new Child Poverty Monitor report.

“Increases have been halted, there are small declines, too early to tell if it's a trend but in all of the major measures we're coming down.”

The report reveals 135,000 New Zealand children are in households that are living without 7 or more essential items including shoes, raincoats, and food.

80,000 New Zealand children are in the 'Severe Poverty' category. That's 10,000 fewer than last year.

Judge Becroft says a new children's strategy needs to be created in accordance with the Vulnerable Children's Act.

“We've got the Vulnerable Children's Act that has an obligation on the CEO of all major Government departments to formulate a strategy with the creation of Oranga Tamariki. It's not been done yet- it's got to be done.”

Agencies such as KidsCan are still providing 30,000 breakfast and lunch items to students each week.  76 percent of those students are Māori and Pacifica.

Child advocate Anton Blank says he has mixed feelings about the report’s findings.

“What I would like to see is more specific research and programs focusing on the needs of our children.  Because I think as the population diversifies we're seeing quite major differences between population groups.”

The government will release their plan to tackle poverty next week.