If you’re moving from Europe looking for a better life for your children, give New Zealand a wide berth.
The most remote country on earth has been failing its youth for years (our many youth crime and poverty articles are a testament to that) but now poverty among it’s children is becoming officially recognised.
Children in New Zealand are in more hardship than in any comparable European country, according to New Zealand’s own Ministry of Social Development.
While some European countries are excluded, Estonia, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are included because “their rankings are now often in the same ballpark as New Zealand” (source MOSD). Actually, their rankings are far better than New Zealand’s:
Plot deprivation rates against risk ratios (used to summarise the under or over representation of a population subgroup in a hardship category compared to the population as a whole) and you can see that children in hardship in New Zealand make up a significant proportion of its population.
The Ministry’s report ‘Measuring and monitoring material hardship for NZ children’ was released on 4 June 2015. It is based on data collated in 2008 but its authors say there’s been no significant changes since then.
You may remember the GFC was in full swing in New Zealand in 2008, it’s shocking, a complete disgrace, there has been no improvement for its children since then.
A ministry report prepared for the child poverty package in last month’s Budget, published online yesterday, found that 18 per cent of Kiwi children lacked at least five out of 13 items of material wellbeing in 2008, compared with only 11 per cent of the whole population and 3 per cent of the elderly aged 65-plus.
New Zealand’s ratio of child deprivation to the whole population average, with children suffering at 1.6 times the average, was higher than in any of 20 European countries for which the same data was available.
Although the figures are based on a living standards survey which is now seven years old, there were no significant changes in NZ policies which are likely to have improved New Zealand’s ranking in the meantime…” source
Add to that the 21% (222,000) of children who suffer at least six hardships and the real picture of childhood poverty in New Zealand really starts to stand out.
What were the measures of material wellbeing? (i.e. poverty) Quite basic things, really.
You may think having access to a car and a computer are luxury items, but New Zealand is a large, remote country with a poor public transport network, in places there are no buses or trains. Not having a vehicle or a computer may mean a child can’t get to school or be able to study properly.
The Ministry’s report also examined 17 wider indicators of deprivation (a selection of some appear below) which threw doubt on the country’s claim to have a world class health system – one that is too expensive for families to access. Perhaps this is why so many Kiwi kids suffer from third world diseases such as rheumatic fever, partly caused by household overcrowding.
“postponed visits to the doctor”
“put up with feeling cold to save on heating costs”
“borrowed money from family or friends more than once in the last 12 months to cover everyday living costs” source
Note, NZ has 14 times the average OECD rate of rheumatic fever, five to 10 times the rate of whooping cough and pneumonia compared with the United Kingdom and United States, and four to six times the rate of child maltreatment compared with the best countries. (read more)
John Key, 2008 State of the Nation speech
In his 2008 State of the Nation Speech John Key said that New Zealand had
“showed us its bitter fruits. The dramatic drive-by shooting of two-year-old Jhia Te Tua, caught in a battle between two gangs in Wanganui. The incidence of typhoid, a Third World disease, reaching a 20-year high. The horrific torture and eventual death of three-year-old Nia Glassie. The staggering discovery of a lost tribe of 6,000 children who are not enrolled at any school…
It is saddening there has been no improvement since then.
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The anonymous survey revealed that 36 per cent believed that verbal abuse was a problem, while 31 per cent highlighted cyberbullying…Verbal bullying is more of a problem in high schools, with 39% of students saying it was an issue compared to 29% in primary schools. It was also more of a problem for girls in co-ed schools: 43% compared to 33% at same-sex schools.
…For some struggling families, wealth (and even health) is a far-fetched dream and the so-called paradise on offer here (in NZ) has eluded them. Maybe Unicef is right when it claims we are among the worst in developed countries for child wellbeing.
It’s a shock to us all to hear such claims – but maybe we need to pull off the rose-tinted glasses and face reality. Please, remember this name: Emma-Lita Bourne. We should never forget her.
She died last year, aged just 15 months, from a brain haemorrhage, resulting from a clot. She had been suffering from a pneumonia-like illness in the days leading up to her death.
This week a coroner highlighted Housing NZ’s role in a little girl’s death in a state house.
The government agency wasn’t solely to blame – but it may have contributed to her death, said coroner Brandt Shortland: “I am of the view the condition of the house at the time being cold and damp during the winter months was a contributing factor to her health status.”… Duncan Gardner writing for the Dominion Post read on