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Poverty in New Zealand

Imagine an Aotearoa New Zealand where all our young people flourish.

Today, 28% of kiwi kids are living in a low-income household where their caregivers are struggling to give them the basics to help them flourish – basics like food, shoes and a warm house.

That’s 1 in 4 children in New Zealand. This number has more than doubled over the past 30 years. And almost every child lives in a family, whānau or household.

How do our thinking, systems and structures contribute to so many living in poverty and hardship? And how can we change and improve to make sure all our young people thrive?

What determines poverty in our society?

There are many definitions of poverty. New Zealand is a developed country, so any definitions we use need to be relevant to us.

We have heard from many experts, who tell us that factors that determine whether people live in poverty or not include:

  • A decent income
  • Savings and wealth
  • Wider family and community support
  • Hope for a better future
  • Families’ ability to create a better future for themselves
  • The legacy of colonisation
  • The consequences of economic policies like neoliberalism.

We also understand that labelling people or communities as ‘poor’ is unhelpful and can be demeaning and hurtful. Another term used is hardship, which often means the suffering created by poverty.

Not all groups in society are affected equally. Some of the groups most affected – for example, Māori and Pasifika – are going to become a much bigger portion of the population in the decades to come.


What’s the current situation?

Because there are many ways to define poverty, there are also many ways to measure it.  Some measures are summarised in the Child Poverty Monitor.  Our New Zealand Government has committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals,which include reducing at least by half the proportion of people in poverty in our country (according to national definitions) by 2030.

We want to play a part, and help others to contribute.

The Peter McKenzie project is supporting Ideas that can, over time, contribute to a reduction in the numbers of children, mokopuna, whānau and families entering, or living in poverty/hardship.  We want all children to have opportunities and a good life.  We don’t want tomorrow’s children and mokopuna to suffer the effects, sometimes life-long, that poverty can inflict.