Policy report

Whakapono: end child poverty in Māori whānau. A preliminary report

Poverty Maori people Children Child poverty Whānau New Zealand

Executive Summary

The 2013 Report of the Māori Affairs Committee into the Determinants of Wellbeing for Tamariki Māori begins with key statements, including:

  • The wellbeing of tamariki Māori is inextricable from the wellbeing of their whānau.
  • Acknowledging the importance of collective identity for a Māori child is a first step in realising the potential of a whānau-centred approach to their wellbeing.
  • Enduring change and success for whānau (and therefore tamariki Māori) is possible where whānau themselves are engaged in making the decisions that will affect them.
  • The intergenerational nature of many of the problems facing tamariki Māori be acknowledged and addressed.

New Zealand’s Government joined with 193 others In New York in September 2015 to endorsethe United Nations 17 ambitious sustainable development goals, including the first: End povertyeverywhere in all its forms by 2030. However much we support this pledge, it is difficult to have faith in the Government’s endorsement when Aotearoa New Zealand is failing to honour the rights and pledges set out in other treaties and human rights instruments since 1840, including the Treatyof Waitangi, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC), and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Official acknowledgement of poverty among children since 2002 has not led to solutions. In 2015, of 915,300 children aged 14years and under, more than 230,000 were living below the poverty line; and just under half of these children living in poverty and hardship were Māori and Pasifika, yet Māori comprise only 15% of thetotal population, and Pasifika only 7.4%.

Māori poverty is considered here within the context of the impact of colonisation, the alienation of land and resources, and the consequent loss of a cultural, spiritual and economic base. Because Māori are still, on average, paid at measurably lower rates than Pākehā, low wages and casualised employment contribute to the  disproportionate poverty experienced by Māori families and their children, and severely constrain wealth accumulation. Poverty and hardship create and contribute to present and future health, wellbeing and education risks for children.

Mitigating these destructive influences requires systemic and constitutional change. Solutions require a strengths-based, kaupapa Māori approach to building the capability of whānau to designand implement solutions to ensure the wellbeing of their tamariki.

This report provides information and discussion in sections on family incomes, child health, housing,and education. A consistent theme emerges: investing early in the lives of children averts later public and private health and justice costs, increases the resilience of tamariki and whānau, and benefits the wider economy.

Each section draws on the surveyed research to provide recommendations toward improving the wellbeing of tamariki, providing a rationale for whakapono, and contributing to ending child povertyin Aotearoa New Zealand. The recommendations of the Māori Affairs Committee, provide the foundation for this preliminary report.

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