Downward trend in Child Poverty encouraging

Anton Blank

Auckland, December 7, 2017

The latest Child Poverty Monitor, launched in Auckland today, shows a slight decrease in the numbers of New Zealand children living in poverty.

The signs are encouraging.

The new government’s commitment to putting child poverty targets and measures into legislation now makes the goal of reversing the increase in child poverty attainable.

Government action

The Child Poverty Monitor, which is a collaborative project between the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, J R McKenzie Trust and Otago University, can take credit for this decrease. They highlight the issue every year and push the issue into the public domain. As a result, the previous government increased benefit rates and made other adjustments.

Maori and Pacifika children

In 2011, a report from the advocacy coalition ‘Every Child Counts’ estimated that 60% of the children living below the poverty line were Maori and Pasifika.

The monitor shows some improvement for these groups, especially in education.

More Maori and Pasifika students are achieving NCEA Level 2.

But Maori in particular lag behind other groups.

Working with schools to lift Maori achievement is essential.

Research tells us repeatedly that teachers have low expectations of Maori learners, which has created an enduring pattern of under-achievement.

If we are serious about lifting Maori children out of poverty, we must focus on education and preparing young Maori for the workforce.

I commend the Child Poverty Monitor and its partners for their continued advocacy for New Zealand children, and the impressive results we are now seeing.

Anton Blank is a child advocate, writer and publisher based in Auckland. He has extensive experience in Maori development, social work, public health and literature. Picture Courtesy: Radio New Zealand.

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