We advocate for the interests, rights and wellbeing of children and young people

We believe that all mokopuna*, regardless of their background, deserve to grow up in families who have what they need to live their best lives.

But thousands of children in Aotearoa are locked out of that vision.

Aotearoa has high rates of child poverty and hardship compared with other rich nations. We’ve got used to tolerating this over the years, but we can choose to set a better course for the future.

Ending child poverty requires it to be measured

Poverty can affect every part of a child’s life. It can look like putting off a visit to the doctor, living in a cold and mouldy home or not having enough to eat.

The Office has published the annual Child Poverty Monitor since 2013 in partnership with the JR McKenzie Trust and Otago University. It tracks changes in how many children in Aotearoa live in poverty, using a range of measures, and how poverty impacts different aspects of their lives through health, education, housing and family circumstances.  The Monitor brings a range of official and government agency data together in one place.

In 2018 Parliament passed the Child Poverty Reduction Act, which requires governments to report on and set targets to reduce rates of income poverty, and material hardship. Child poverty statistics show Māori, Pacific, and disabled children are much more likely to live in poverty and hardship.

Like the Monitor, the Act uses several different measures of income poverty and hardship. Generally material hardship means that children are going without at least six essential things like warm clothes or nutritious food.

How the Child Poverty Reduction Act defines poverty.

The Act also requires governments to write a Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy that provides a holistic and aspirational framework for what all children need to thrive. It also includes reporting on what government agencies are to improve wellbeing.

How many children will be better off by choosing to end child poverty?

An estimated 21 percent of children, or 235,400 children experienced income poverty as of June 2019.[1]

An estimated 150,000 children lived in material hardship – that’s over 10 percent of all children.

When we ask mokopuna what a good life means for them, they often want their families to have enough money for the basics like food, clothes and a good house to live in.

“Living in comfortable conditions e.g. household that has enough money for the basics (at least).” 16 year old New Zealand European, Māori boy.

Unfortunately, the 2020 Child Poverty Monitor report found that many mokopuna are living without the basics.


[1] That is using the Stats NZ definition of income poverty: when a household’s income before housing costs is less than 50% of the median income.

[*] Drawing from the wisdom of Te Ao Māori, we have adopted the term mokopuna to describe all children and young people we advocate for, aged under 18 years of age in Aotearoa New Zealand. This acknowledges the special status held by mokopuna in their families, whānau, hapū and iwi and reflects that in all we do. Referring to the people we advocate for as mokopuna draws them closer to us and reminds us that who they are, and where they come from matters for their identity, belonging and wellbeing, at every stage of their lives.


For more information

Child Poverty Monitor 2020

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See this year's monitor