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Action needed so all tamariki have high wellbeing

Media releases

13 May 2021

Child Wellbeing reports today show bold action is needed on discrimination, incomes and housing to ensure Māori, Pacific and disabled children enjoy the same high wellbeing as others, Commissioner for Children Andrew Becroft says.

The Government today released its annual Child Poverty Related Indicators Report, and the Annual Report of its Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy. 

“The reports show that while most children are doing well, that’s much less likely to be the case for tamariki Māori, Pacific and disabled children,” Assistant Māori Commissioner Glenis Philip-Barbara said.

“It’s good to see this unfairness acknowledged by the Government, but big bold changes will be needed to improve wellbeing for tamariki who continue to be left out.” 

Among the reports’ findings:

  • Tamariki Māori, Pacific and disabled children and children growing up in lower income households were much more likely to be living in mouldy homes
  • Pacific and Māori children were more likely to be hospitalised for avoidable reasons and less likely to be engaged at school.
  • Nearly half of all Pacific children - 46 percent - lived in households that sometimes or often ran out of food.
  • Mokopuna Māori were over-represented in referrals for Oranga Tamariki investigations, had double the rate of attempted suicide and experienced significantly lower material wellbeing and higher material hardship.

“These figures paint a stark picture of inequality that doesn’t fit with the idea that New Zealand be the best place in the world to be a child,” Commissioner Becroft said. 

“While the reports warn that the impact of COVID is still unknown, the pandemic should be the reason to do more for tamariki not an excuse to do less.

“In a country as wealthy as ours, no child should be living in a mouldy home, or running out of food, or ending up in hospital from preventable causes. As a country we can fix this – we just need to choose to.  In next week’s Budget I hope to see the priority given to children who are missing out.

“There is now an inarguable need to increase benefits, as recommended by the Government’s own advisory group.”

Ms Philip-Barbara added: “Mokopuna also need more high quality social housing, as well as deliberate efforts across the wider public sector to understand the impact of racism and discrimination on the real lives of children and young people.

She welcomed efforts to improve data collection, and look to strengths-based indicators and measures grounded in te ao Māori perspectives of wellbeing.

“These are needed to design solutions that will deliver outcomes for mokopuna and whānau Māori, and eliminate racism,” Ms Philip-Barbara says.