Faculty of Education and Social Work

Investing In Our Nation’s Kids

Solutions to Child Poverty in New Zealand.


Project purpose

As New Zealanders we like to believe our ‘Godzone’ is a great place for children. For most children this is true. But it is not true for children living in poverty. As many as 25 percent of New Zealand’s children – about 270,000 – currently live in poverty. That’s one in every four children. That’s like filling Auckland’s Eden Park to capacity five and half times, with children.

Child poverty is extremely costly. For individual children, it can mean going to school hungry and living in a cold, damp house. Important childhood opportunities are missed like school outings and sports. This can influence educational achievement and health outcomes. In New Zealand each year there is at least $6 billion in additional health and education costs associated with child poverty, as well as reduced productivity.

Finding actions that will reduce child poverty is not simple. How can we make sure New Zealand is a great place to live for all our children? What is the role of education for solutions to child poverty? Some answers can be found in the report to the New Zealand Children's Commissioner Solutions to Child Poverty in New Zealand: Evidence for action. Hundreds of New Zealanders, including children, contributed to this report. Overall it was clear that action is needed, now. No child should experience severe and persistent poverty, least of all in our ‘land of plenty’.

Investing In Our Nation’s Kids is an evidence-informed project that aims to advance the immediate priorities put forward in the child poverty solutions report. This website shares information about actions taken and results. The first initiative was an actions-focused workshop held on 6 March 2013.

Children's Commissioner website - Solutions to Child Poverty


Project contact: Dr Airini


Solutions to Child Poverty report

Investing In Our Nation’s Kids aims to advance the immediate priorities put forward in the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group’s report on solutions to child poverty in New Zealand.

The seven immediate priorities from Solutions to Child Poverty in New Zealand

  1. Child support payments
  2. Warrant of Fitness for rental housing
  3. Micro-financing through private-public partnerships
  4. Food-in-schools
  5. Teen parents remaining in education
  6. Supporting community hubs
  7. Local government maintaining safe and welcoming public spaces (the priority identified by children)

Project members

Dr Jilly Evans


  • Dr Jilly Evans, 2013 Distinguished Alumni of The University of Auckland, Cancer researcher

Faculty of Education and Social Work:

  • Dr Airini, Head of School, Critical Studies in Education; Expert Advisory Group member
  • Nic Mason, Manager, Research Opportunities

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences:

Professional administration:

  • Sandra Bovill

Workshop: Growing New Zealand’s Future: Investing in our nation’s kids

Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills

Conscious that reports are nothing without action, on 6 March 2013, researchers from The University of Auckland, Expert Advisory Group members, the Commissioner for Children and representatives from business, organisational, political and community groups, together with frontline workers from across New Zealand met to discuss seven immediate priorities identified in the Group’s report.

Cancer researcher and 2013 Distinguished Alumni of The University of Auckland, Dr Jilly Evans, funded the meeting that was hosted by the Faculty of Education and Social Work. She summed up the feeling of the group well when she said “Child poverty statistics in New Zealand are appalling, and all the reports that come out offering solutions are just not being implemented to make the changes where they are needed – at both the grass-roots and political level. Every day we procrastinate, children are still suffering through poverty. We are frustrated and worried that child poverty reduction priorities are not being taken seriously or being implemented quick enough.”

The meeting heard from Dr Tracy McIntosh, Co-Chair of the Expert Advisory Group and Head of the Department of Sociology, The University of Auckland. Business leader Dr Allan Freeth also spoke on the role of business in mitigating child poverty in New Zealand.

The aim of the meeting was to work together and identify practical solutions that can be implemented almost immediately to alleviate child suffering and to have a list of defined action points to achieve this. Worksheets for creating actions were created. The worksheets contain ‘SMART’ goals (Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic, Timebound) and are being written up into action plans.

The group will come together again in November to review implementation and the success of these actions.

Workshop 2: Communities with Heart (November 13, 2013)

As a follow up to the March 2013 workshop agencies, individuals, and community groups focused on reducing child poverty will meet in Auckland on Wednesday 13 November, 12-5pm.


4 June 2013

Funding has been granted by two Countdown stores in Upper Hutt to start a breakfast club at a newly opened community house. This will start next term and offer free breakfasts for kids and their families before school followed by a walking bus to two local schools.



  • Freeth, A. (2013). Perversions, Poverty, Prisons and Poisons. Keynote presentation for Growing New Zealand’s Future: Investing In Our Nation's Kids Child Poverty Workshop. 6 March 2013. The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Airini. (2012). Aotearoa New Zealand: First to see the new day. Sharing some truths about New Zealand’s record in child poverty, what we are doing that makes a difference, and what more can be done. Invited keynote presentation. Jigsaw (Family Services Incorporated) National Conference. October 10-12 2012, Te Papa, Wellington.
  • Airini. (2012). Why should the business sector care about the wellbeing of children? Every Child Counts and Business New Zealand discussion series about the importance of child wellbeing to the economy. Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand, 10 May, 2012.
  • Airini. (2013). Child poverty in ‘Godzone’? Evidence and actions to reduce child poverty in New Zealand. Invited keynote for the University of Sydney, Australia. University of Sydney, 11 March 2013.
    Sydney Ideas is the University of Sydney’s premier public lecture series program that aims to bring some of Sydney’s, Australia’s and the world’s, leading thinkers to the wider Sydney community. (http://sydney.edu.au/sydney_ideas/about/index.shtml).


Te Kuaka – Issue One 2013
View Te Kuaka – Issue One 2013

Online animations to share about Solutions to Child Poverty

Establish a Warrant of Fitness for all rental housing
Food In Schools

Safe Public Spaces
Pass on payments

Written & voiced by Siouxsie Wiles
Recorded by Neil Morrison
Commissioned by Dr Jilly Evans
Animated by Mohawk Media
Published under Creative Commons