A reader emails on the latest ‘poverty’ report

Fairfax reports:

Nearly one-third of all New Zealand children are living in poverty and more than half of those kids will never escape it.

The latest Child Poverty Monitor report, released by Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills, laid out a grim reality for more than 300,000 children.

It draws on a number of different measures by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to paint a single picture of child poverty in New Zealand.

While the number of children living in the most severe hardship has decreased slightly, a total of 29 per cent of children lived with income poverty, compared to 24 per cent at the last measure.

Children were also far more likely to be living in poverty than pensioners, of which 13 per cent lived on incomes that were less than 60 per cent of the current median income. That worked out to be around $30,600 or less.

Particularly worrying, about 14 per cent of children were living without basic essentials like fresh fruit and vegetables, a warm house and decent clothing.?But it was difficult to interpret trends, because some of the measures had changed in the past year.

“Overwhelmingly, the income measures are all worse,” he said.

“That’s consistent with health outcomes and data like the numbers of families requiring food parcels and extra benefits and having unmet housing need.”

A reader emails:

I woke up to news this morning that my two children are in living in poverty. It was news to me. They live in a warm, insulated home, go to good schools and wear shoes when they want to (which actually isn’t often). They always eat breakfast, except when they forget and play the xbox instead, and we already have one international holiday paid for in the next 12 months.

It sure is tough. I got invited to apply for a Community Services card a few months ago. I put the form in the bin. We don’t need it, so why bludge when you don’t have to?

My wife and I have almost paid off the mortgage, own two cars and grow our own vegetables in 1/5th of an acre section. We own a few businesses and due to hiccups in the start up stages have not drawn much in wages over the last two years. It is on the up and we will get more in the future, but in the meantime our children must live below the poverty line.

It shows how much of a joke such a single measure is. We eat simply, grow a lot of our own food (in a city) and shop well. We’re always looking for bargains and when they aren’t to be found my wife will be seen fixing old clothes and knitting new ones. Today my son went to school in an oversized t-shirt, which he thought was much like a sweater. Why? Not because we couldn’t afford it, but because following an argument about it he insisted it was a freebie from a sports day and he was proud of what he achieved.

We certainly not in poverty and to use an arbitrary income number as a guide is a bit of a joke.

We don’t have a poverty problem in New Zealand, we have an academic problem. They keep on dreaming up stupid measures which guarantee to ensure they will continually have headlines about poverty.

Apparently we have a poverty problem, which requires us to feed kids at school…and an obesity problem with kids…tell me how that happens?


– Fairfax