Number of Children in New Zealand Living in Poverty Jumps in Revised Figures

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The number of children living in poverty in New Zealand has increased by 60,000 which is twice the previously reported figure. New Zealand's poverty line covers children living in homes earning 60 per cent of the median income after housing.

From 240,000 Kiwi children in 2010, the number has grown to 300,000 in 2010 - the highest number of poor children since 2001. This number has dropped to 285,000 which is not as high as 300,000 but still 20,000 more than the previously reported 265,000. The newly-revised figures were released after the Treasury and Statistics NZ discovered an error in counting the estimates of after-tax income.

The newly released figures reveal that poor children increased to 28 per cent in 2010 from 22 per cent in 2007.

Child Poverty Monitor figures

The Child Poverty Monitor also found that one out of six children is surviving without access to basic necessities. The report said the children may be missing out on meals and doctor's visits, and could be sleeping on the floor.

According to the new rigorous measure, the number of children admitted to hospitals because of poor living conditions is increasing. The data shows that tens of thousands of children are being treated in hospitals every year due to infectious and respiratory diseases linked with overcrowded and damp homes.

New Zealand Children's Commissioner and Hawke's Bay pediatrician Russell Wills said he sees young children from crowded homes that are admitted to the hospital because of skin infections. Dr Wills said sick children with poverty-related illnesses are filling up the wards.

According to the report, children continue to be the most impoverished group in New Zealand.  Kiwi children, especially the youngest, are more likely to live poorly than people in their retirement age. Most children living in poverty are under the care of solo parents. They are the most vulnerable to sickness and injury.

The Child Poverty Monitor was commissioned by Dr Wills after the New Zealand government had not taken action when urged to measure child poverty. The Children's Commissioner secured private funding from the JR McKenzie Trust which is a Wellington-based charity. A new report will be released every year to monitor the well-being of impoverished children.

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