child poverty in nz

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27 per cent of kiwi kids live in poverty.

What are the facts in New Zealand?

290,000 NZ children - around 27% of kiwi kids - are currently living in income poverty.*

UNICEF defines child poverty as children being deprived of the material, spiritual and emotional resources needed to survive, develop and thrive.

This leaves them unable to enjoy their rights, achieve their full potential or participate as full and equal members of society.

135,000 New Zealand children (12%) are living in material hardship. That means 135,000 New Zealand children are living in households without seven or more items considered necessary for their wellbeing 290,000 (27%) New Zealand kids are living beneath the income poverty line, leaving many unable to experience the basics that many of us take for granted.

* According to the 2017 Technical Report from the Child Poverty Monitor

What does income poverty mean for our kids?

Income poverty

Living in income poverty can mean homelessness, not having access to healthy food like fruits and vegetables, going to school hungry, or coming home to a cold damp house to sleep in a shared bed. It can mean missing out on activities like learning a musical instrument or playing sport, or even having a birthday party.

If a child's living below the poverty line, it means they are living in households where income is less than 60% of the median household income, after housing costs are taken into consideration.

Social Exclusion

Social exclusion as a result of income poverty can also be detrimental to the mental wellbeing of New Zealand kids.

They may be bullied for not wearing the right school uniform, or stressed from having to move house constantly due to rent increases.

Health Consequences

Children in poor communities are three times more likely than the average child to be sick, twice as likely to end up in hospital, and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) rates are more than 6 times higher for infants in the most disadvantaged areas of New Zealand.

These harmful effects run into adulthood. Growing up with income poverty means having a higher risk of heart disease, alcohol and drug addiction, obesity and poor dental health.

What about child rights?

New Zealand has committed to upholding child rights.

As a signatory to the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) New Zealand has affirmed that children should be given the opportunity to achieve their full potential and participate as equal members of New Zealand society.


Right to receive care

Children who have any kind of disability should have special care and support, so that they can lead full and independent lives.


Right to be healthy

Children have the right to good quality health care, to clean water, nutritious food, and a clean environment, so that they will stay healthy.


Right to a good standard of living

Children have a right to a standard of living that is good enough to meet their physical and mental needs.


Right to receive financial help

The Government should provide extra money for the children of families in need.


Fighting Poverty

Child poverty is a reality that is costing us dearly.

How to fix this

New Zealand is a UN member state, and that means we are committed to implementing the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. One of the first goals calls for a reduction in children living in poverty by at least half by 2030.

What are the costs of child poverty?

As much as $10 billion of public money is required every year to deal with the negative consequences of child poverty. Independent research has shown that three-quarters of that cost is avoidable.

Stories of child poverty

Read more about the reality of poverty for kiwi kids, and how UNICEF is helping to build a better and fairer future for every child.

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