Skip to main content

New Zealand Tackles Child Poverty

Australia can learn from New Zealand in how to effectively reduce child poverty

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a commitment in the 2017 election to more than halve child poverty in the next ten years in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Once elected she also took on the portfolio of Minister for Child Poverty Reduction.

The Child Poverty Reduction Act 2018 was passed in December 2018, supported almost unanimously across political party lines, including the Nationals, the main Opposition party.

It mandated the government to set both intermediate (3 year) and long-term (10 year) child poverty targets. It also established a suite of measures to track progress on reducing child poverty and requires annual reporting on identified child poverty-related indicators. Regular reporting requirements provide a high level of transparency and accountability.

New Zealand child poverty reduction targets and outcomes to date:

  • Low income households on the Before Housing Costs primary measure from 16.5 percent of children to 10.5 percent – they achieved 13.6 percent, which is considered to have not been met.  While not meeting their target, this still equates to an 18 percent reduction in the proportion of children in poverty over 3 years from 2017-18 to 2020-21, (from 183,400 to 156,700 children using this measure)[i] It is also due to an increase in median incomes over the period, see here for more
  • Low income households on the After Housing Costs primary measure from 22.8 percent of children to 18.8 percent – they achieved 16.3 percent. This target was met. It equates to a 29 percent reduction in child poverty over 3 years from 2017-18 to 2020-21 (from 253,500 to 187,300 children using that measure).
  • Material Hardship from 13.3 percent of children to 10.3 percent – they achieved 11 percent, which which was above the target but was deemed to have been met as it was in the range of sampling error.

Read full Briefing: New Zealand Tackles Child Poverty