We’re committed to making New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child. We believe all our young people deserve to be happy, healthy, and empowered to live their best life – and the latest data shows our policies are making this a reality for thousands more Kiwi kids.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we’ve delivered one of the most significant drops in child poverty in decades. Just-released statistics show that we’ve lifted 66,500 children out of poverty and a further 21,900 out of material hardship. That’s thousands of tamariki who no longer have to sit through school hungry, go without warm clothing, or worry about having a safe place to sleep.
There’s more work to do, but the actions we’ve taken – including initiatives designed to ensure our COVID recovery leaves no one behind – are making a real difference for families across New Zealand.
We know child wellbeing can’t be separated from whānau wellbeing. While COVID has made things tougher, we’ve been working hard to support Kiwi families and increase household incomes. For instance, we’ve made historic boosts to main benefits and indexed them to average wage growth, so families don’t fall further behind.
Our Families Package benefitted 330,000 families in its first year, and further improvements to Working for Families will increase the incomes of nearly 350,000 families by an average of $20 a week from April.
Taken together, changes we’ve made since 2017 mean that around 110,000 families and whānau with children will be, on average, $175 a week better off. We’ve also lifted the minimum wage to $20 an hour, with another boost kicking in from April.
Another important part of this work is making sure children don’t miss out on the essentials, like food and healthcare. Our free lunches in schools programme has now provided 62 million healthy meals to more than 211,000 students in more than 900 schools and kura across the motu. We’ve rolled out free period products in all schools and kura, and made doctor’s visits free for all children under 14.
Housing has a major impact on wellbeing, and kids shouldn’t get preventable diseases like rheumatic fever because they live in a cold, damp house. We’re making sure rental homes are up to scratch through our Healthy Homes Standards, and we’re funding insulation and heat pumps through programmes like Warmer Kiwi Homes. We’re also helping more than one million people stay warm through the colder months with the Winter Energy Payment.
Thanks to these initiatives, and others, all nine child poverty measures are trending down since 2017/18.
We know lifting child wellbeing is a long-term challenge, but changes we’ve put in place are making and will continue to make a substantial difference to whānau for years to come. We’ve achieved two of the three ambitious targets we set ourselves when we first took office – and we remain committed to more than halving child poverty within a decade.
How we treat our most vulnerable and our future generations is a real marker of who we are, and we want to ensure all New Zealanders can feel proud of our record on child wellbeing. We’re looking forward to progressing this important kaupapa in the months ahead, as we seek to ensure every child has what they need to thrive.
You can read more about our work on child wellbeing here. Stay in the loop by signing up to our mailing list and following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.