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Child Poverty in New Zealand

New Zealand ranks high in health status and social connections. It’s at the top among developed nations for its quality of life. However, poverty in this country is excessive among inhabitants and it is mainly affecting the children. Sadly, child poverty in New Zealand is at its all-time high.

According to UNICEF, child poverty is a harsh reality in New Zealand. About 295,000 children are currently living in poverty. Children who grow up in poverty live in overcrowded homes, do not have adequate clothes for the weather and go hungry for days at a time. This can lead to doing poorly in school, not acquiring jobs, having poor health and turning to a life of crime.

“It’s cut-throat in New Zealand. If you’re struggling you get left behind,” says a New Zealand mother, who was living in a small motel room with her husband and six children. They were living in this room for about two weeks, while the family waited to be placed in a state house. The mother has to deal with two of her children whom are disabled and need to attend special education school. However, the placement of these schools is extremely competitive and hard to secure. Therefore, they are confined to homeschooling with only two picture books. This is the case for many families in New Zealand, who are living below the poverty line.

Child poverty in New Zealand has become a real problem. According to the former head of the University of Auckland pediatrics department Innes Asher, “We have, every year in New Zealand, about 40,000 children… admitted to hospital for diseases that are potentially preventable by solving poverty, housing and great access to healthcare. There’s a lot we could do.”

In 2015, the National-led government budget gave $25 extra to low-income families. However, Asher says this amount is very low, and “certainly does not make up for the $72.50 in tax credits three-child families without parents in paid work are missing out on.”

Children and families have been specifically deprived by the government. Despite this fact, there are organizations out there looking for solutions to alleviate the child poverty in New Zealand, like UNICEF, who is raising money to change children’s life.

Solansh Moya

Photo: Flickr