Targets to reduce poverty are mostly on track for Pākehā children, but the gaps between them, and Māori, Pasifika and disabled children are “stark”, says the new Children’s Commissioner.
The Child Poverty Monitor 2021 was released on Monday morning, a joint report from the Children’s Commissioner, Otago University and the JR McKenzie Trust.
It found that just under nine per cent of Pākehā children are experiencing material hardship, but that rate is nearly double for both Māori children and children with disabilities at about 20 per cent, and just over 25 per cent for Pasifika children.
Judge Frances Eivers, New Zealand’s new Children’s Commissioner, explains material hardship as access to the basics, such as food, a warm home, and clothing.
She told Breakfast it is good to know that the Government is on target in terms of “measuring the poverty of our children”, but more needs to be done.
“What is very stark is that our Māori, Pasifika and disabled children are still not making targets for family hardship.
“There's no reason why every child in this country should have the opportunity to not only have their mana recognised, but to achieve their limitless potential.”
Eivers said Māori, Pasifika and disabled children faced a “history of barriers caused by racism, colonisation and ableism that get in the way of them living their best lives”.
She said solutions to tackle these inequities include raising income and providing much greater protections for renters, as most whānau in poverty do not own their own home.
“We need to look at those statistics, for each and everyone of us to work and find ways to help our whānau. They need more income. They need good housing, it needs to be warm.
“We urge the Government to significantly raise the Family Tax Credit, in line with the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group, and introduce rules to prevent unfair rental increases, give families security of tenure and ensure all rental homes are warm, dry and healthy.
“Financial support for families with a disabled caregiver or child should be reviewed to ensure the levels of assistance meet people’s actual needs.”