The new child poverty stat that makes my stomach turn


Everyone finds something offensive nowadays. Some people get offended by a Facebook comment. Some people get offended by a YouTube video. Some people get offended by a letter to the editor in the Sunday Star Times and subsequently write a reply. Some people get offended by a man named Gazza from Tokoroa expressing his perceivably bigoted opinions on open-line talkback. Some people get offended by a woman breastfeeding her baby in a local Cafe.

Whilst I consider myself relatively thick-skinned I am one to find something that offends me too every once and a while. Today I am offended. I am offended by a startling new statistic and the apparent willingness of our nation to just accept this statistic as the new normal and carry on with our individual lives. That cannot be tolerated anymore, because this statistic is just shameful.

The Salvation Army, a charity which has led so many causes in fighting poverty across our country’s many cities, towns and communities has released startling new statistics which are deeply disturbing and above all telling. Upon reading them I am left with few words but many, many internal thoughts, most blatantly; “how the actual hell did we end up like this?”.

Everyone knows the statistic “1 in 4 children in poverty”. In my opinion this line has been repeated too much without anything really being done. That statistic is now memorable. It’s part of the common knowledge of our people and easily repeated by anyone. There was a time when that statistic was new and mindblowing. But it has become normalised.

Nearly half of all homeless people in our country’s largest city of Auckland are under the age of 16. That’s everyone from an infant to adolescent. That is the new statistic, released by the Salvation Army, which I find difficult  to stomach – and even more so difficult to tolerate.

I consider myself and our household a somewhat charitable group. I offer my spare change to the buskers outside the Newtown New World or the charity boxes in our local businesses. Most times we shop we pick out a few items to give to the food bank. We donate all of our clothes including pants, shirts and jackets to St Vinnies or the Salvation Army.

It kills me to know this is barely making a dent in our country’s poverty epidemic.

These homeless children do not even have a imperfect state home to go to. They have nothing – they don’t even have a chance. This is something that is bad for all of us. This is something that will cost all of us. This is something we know, whether we like the fact or not, that leads to inner city and suburban crime.

The homelessness of children and teenagers can not be tolerated in 21st century New Zealand. I know we are a better country to sit back and let this happen and let this, like the “1 in 4” mantra become the new normal.

There isn’t a justification for children without homes. The reason for children living cold and malnourished on the streets in a 21st century, in a economically advanced country, simply does not exist. There is no defending it.

With that said, the Auckland mayoral election is on the horizon. It’s still little less than a year out, but already the candidates are lining up. Phil Goff is set to make his announcement this month. It should be a requirement for anyone seeking to become the leader of our country’s biggest city to outline their plan to combat the homelessness of under 16s.

The Salvation Army’s key recommendations for combating youth homelessness:

  • Increase Auckland’s social housing supply by 1000 houses a year for 10 years
  • Improve access to the Ministry of Development for those with urgent needs
  • Create policies to ensure Auckland has affordable housing in the future
  • Increase funding for emergency housing.

    Bennett Morgan 



12 thoughts on “The new child poverty stat that makes my stomach turn

  1. When some parents can afford to buy and smoke cigarettes while the kids eat noodles 🍜 or drink beer 🍺,wine,play the pokie machines,it is not a problem to the adults.but there are some good parents who go without food,and stay home to care for their children who struggle…contraception would be the best thing people on low incomes..having one child or no children if they can not afford to pay the costs of raising a child for 16-18 years..the romantic idea of a sweet little baby ends after weeks of no sleep and no spare money..some choose to have babies as a career option and solo parents are stuck in a hole when the government demand that they get a job when the child goes to school so get pregnant to start the process over.

    • Graham, your comments are just a regurgitation of the usual rubbish. No one had the right to dictate what is and isn’t “allowed” if they are poor.

      Your suggestion of contraception won’t work, it can already be obtained for cheap/free if needed. Unless you are willing to force contraception (how many human rights are breached with that?!?!) it won’t work.

      The solution is education, not force. Educate the poor so they can make better decisions. Educate the poor so they can get better jobs. Educated people are healthier and more productive for society – win win for both the left and right.

      • Thank you Cameron! So sick of people saying the same old garbage. Since when has that ever helped. Look at the pivotal moments in history, they certainly didn’t come from oppressing the poor.

    • Graham – you say ‘some’ quite a few times in your comment. Would you care to say how many at each occurrence of the word? Otherwise, it’s just your unsubstantiated opinion based on absolutely nothing to whoever is reading it. Also, why do you believe contraception is the best solution for people on low incomes? What about better incomes or wages instead? Because the contraception is a tricky solution to achieve when you already have the children. Even more difficult when poverty has hit you suddenly when you had children when living in good circumstances and then something unforeseen happens and you are either forced in desperation into very different or low paid work or onto a benefit. ‘Some’ may say that ‘some’ people more likely fit in this scenario than what you suggest.

    • That’s of little consolation to the children who are currently the statistic.
      Your view is so narrow-minded and ignorant, I don’t even have the words.
      My mother singlehandedly raised my 3 siblings and I on a domestic purposes benefit after my father left.
      She does not drink, has never smoked, done drugs or gambled. The choices she had to make were between feeding us or paying the gas bill (we used the oven to heat our uninsulated state home) – if we got sick, we had to go to the doctor, required medicines…all which cost money. Which we did not have. She didn’t make the choice to be a solo parent on social welfare, but she couldn’t afford childcare in a non skilled job for 4 children.
      So we made do.
      What a wondrous life you must have lived, sitting on your high horse looking down on everyone.

    • Wow!
      Graham, you and your attitude are a big part of the problem. Who are you to judge another person or family! This holier than thou attitude is not helping at all. These people need help, not condemnation. Even if you don’t have a charitable heart, it makes sense economically to help these families have access to better education, access to support services, access to a healthy basic standard of living. If nothing else, it’s a proactive way to break the cycle. These people need to believe in themselves and see their country believing in them, not judgement from every corner.

  2. “To blame the poor for subsisting on welfare has no justice unless we are also willing to judge every rich member of society by how productive he or she is. Taken individual by individual, it is likely that there’s more idleness and abuse of government favors among the economically privileged than among the ranks of the disadvantaged.” – Norman Mailer

  3. I try so very hard every week to just get through. I was all new to it bout 2 years ago and now grow as much food as I can (beets kumara tatoes cauli broccolli carrots Spring onion garlic cabbage and maori potatoes) I also have chickens. Only 3 coz thats affordable to give me and my kids eggs. We go hunting for pallet wood aka firewood at timpak so can get heaps for free. We live in a Statehouse with only the 1 room (lounge) with carpet. We collect shellfish at low tide for free. I am also learning to fish (but gees Im not quite there yet although I can do rigs easy now) We also save power with energy lightbulbs, using same bathwater and turning hot water cynlinder right down to 40° We have had a child with recurrent rsv (bronchiolitus) & We have also applied to now (at last rejection on WINZ record) 292 jobs.. We dont sell or buy drugs as prposed by the PM, we are epileptics and are unable to drive. This counts us out of many jobs. I have even created 9 community projects that help others to try and gain some self employment as I am a very skilled administrator. I volunteer a considerable ammount of time to charitable works and projects and have amazing references. We struggle and battle with WINZ all the time to get our correct entitlements and are were recently penalised for earning over $80 by both WINZ and then Housing NZ as well when we got part time work of 5hours ($100 per wk) so that we could get a recent reference to prove work ready to remain entitled to the benefit we get. (married couple 2kids =$348) after rent/debt offsets etc we have $183 to pay utilities buy food and try to live and care for our kids. At the moment I skip meals so kids can eat instead. All I need is a Government that cares about me to support with practical policies of not penalising beneficiaries for so much trivial income when they are trying to get work and to support it better. 6 workbrokers paid so much money to get me nowhere? Pfft and pffft to that again. All I want is a chance to flourish and my kids to have better life conditions I am losing hope some days and have even been suicidal. All that did was get me a new $5 debt every fortnight for anti-depressants. I wish I was respected but Im hated by this government. Well I feel I am.

  4. you don’t have to be on welfare to live in poverty I work two jobs both minimum wage one m tax one secondary well actual I bust my ass as a cleaner 😦 just so I can get 20 hours a week to claim working for families I have one 13 year old child and there will be no presents on xmas day for my boy as the money I get a week barely covers food ( meat once a week if money is there and fresh vegetables) rent and other general bills and getting also to and from work each day on public transport sometimes I think we be better on the benefit i could sit at home go no where and save $60.09 per week in bus fairs and that is $6.09 one way there is no bus transfers and that’s with a go bus card 😦 Then I think what am I showing my son if I don’t set an example who else is going to

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