Help Kiwi kids get the best start in life


“Dear House Of Representatives,

We call on you to:

1. Enable every child to get a good start in the early years by ensuring parents have all the resources they need (income, affordable housing, education, health)

2. Develop and implement a national strategy to ensure every child their rights to health, education, safety and participation (using a child-rights framework to do this)

3. Work in partnership with communities to ensure every child and family thrives (e.g. enabling community-led initiatives to engage residents in local action for children and well-funded community hubs with improved services for children’s well-being including budgeting, nutrition, adult literacy and parenting education)."

Will you sign?

10,000 signatures

This is a collaborative campaign between ActionStation, UNICEF New Zealand, Tick4Kids, Every Child Counts, Child Poverty Action Group and the New Zealand Christian Council of Social Services.

We all want our children to get the best start in life. But right now, 148,000 Kiwi kids are missing out on what they need to grow up healthy. That’s the equivalent of 5 kids in every classroom of 30 missing out on the basics of life - warm clothes, a full belly and shoes on their feet. [1] It’s not fair, it’s not their fault and the Government has the power to change it.

We know what it would take to turn around the lives of ten of thousands of Kiwi families who are living on the brink, and we have the resources to make it happen. For example, we know that the Government has allocated $1 billion dollars every year for the next 10 years to military procurement. [2] Imagine if just $1 billion of that was invested in family incomes and community support. Imagine if that money was spent on a coordinated local and national campaign to eradicate whānau poverty in this country for good, and we used that money to ensure every single child gets a good start in the early years by enabling parents with all of the resources they need - income, education, housing and healthcare.

We don’t need imagination for this to happen, what we need is political courage.

The Government has a duty to serve Kiwi kids. It can’t be left to charities alone to solve this problem. Charities like The Salvation Army and Variety are already overwhelmed by the demand for their services, and it is poor Government policy that is preventing us from breaking this poverty cycle. [3, 4]

We know the National Government responds to public opinion and polling, and a huge petition could drag this issue into the spotlight, spark a national debate about our country’s priorities and force action.

Last year when more than 17,000 people came together and signed our petition calling for the Government to boost the incomes of the poorest households in New Zealand, the Government responded by increasing core benefit levels by $25 per week in the 2015 Budget. [5] Together, we’ve shown our people power can win change for families who need it most, and now the time has come to do even more. Expert research shows that families need at least an additional $100 per week if we want to break the cycle of poverty for good. [6]

If tens of thousands of us sign this petition we will show the Government that we care about this problem, that we know they have the power to fix it, and that we expect them to prioritise New Zealand’s children in Government spending.

Add your name to the call for balance and fairness in the Government’s economic priorities.


  1. Child Poverty Monitor

  2. The Defence Pretence, Gordon Campbell

  3. Kiwi kids charity struggling to get sponsors, Stuff

  4. Big hike in food parcel demand says Salvation Army, Radio New Zealand

  5. 2015 petition to end child poverty

  6. Excerpt from Professor Jonathan Boston and Simon Chapple, Child Poverty in New Zealand


Need more information before you sign? Check out our FAQ below or email with your question

What else is happening in the fight to stop child poverty?

UNICEF NZ is working to highlight the key issues impacting on children’s wellbeing and what some of the solutions are. On their website (link below) you can explore the issues, hear what experts have to see, learn about children’s rights, and investigate solutions. Sitting alongside this campaign is a timeline of key moments impacting on children since New Zealand ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993. UNICEF NZ also pursues regular meetings with government officials and Members of Parliament to discuss solutions to poverty and ways to ensure children’s rights are upheld.

Find out more: Make My Future Fair website

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is running a campaign calling on the Government to fulfil the best interests of our children by strengthening Working for Families tax credits. Working for Families is a scheme of tax credits paid to eligible families with dependent children aged 18 or younger, to help with the family's day-to-day living costs. However, the operation of the scheme fails to take account of the best interests of ALL children it is supposed to be supporting. The first vital step to Fix Working for Families is to make the In-Work Tax Credit (IWTC) fair and available to ALL low-income families. Overnight, the extra income – a significant $72.50 would make a huge and powerful difference to the lives of thousands of the worst-off children

Find out more: Fix Working For Families campaign and policy asks

How many children in New Zealand are living in poverty?

There are different ways to measure poverty, which means there are different estimates of how many children live in poverty in New Zealand. But even taking into account those variations, we know that somewhere between 140,000 and 305,000 of New Zealand children (between 20-29% of all children) are living under the poverty line (60 percent of median income after housing costs). 9 percent of children live in severe poverty.

Government data shows that 70 per cent of the children living in severe material hardship are in sole parent homes and children in sole parent homes reliant on welfare benefits have poverty rates 6-7 times higher than working families and of the children living in poverty, more than 60 per cent of them are in homes without work.

Children are the population group most likely to live in poverty and it is highly concerning that those most likely to be in poverty are children 0-4 years of age, when the most important physical, mental and emotional development is taking place. As a result, many of these children have their lifelong health and education compromised. For three out of five of those children, poverty persists over at least seven years, for most of their early formative years. And, all the evidence shows that the longer the period on low income, the greater the harm.

Ten years after the launch of the Working for Families family assistance package, research sadly shows that the poorest children in New Zealand have continued to be left behind and likely to suffer harmful consequences. As a country one of our strongest values is fairness to others -- the fair thing to do is create a system where all children thrive and live to their full potential.

Further reading:
● CPAG report: Our Children, Our Choice
● Child Poverty Monitor website

How will a petition make a difference to kids in poverty?

Income matters. Numbers count.

Children are living in poverty because families do not have enough money to meet the basic necessities of life. Our government has the power to change this. We have power in numbers to let the government know this issue matters to us.

Researchers can tell us how many children live in poverty and what effect is has on their health and education. Experts can recommend solutions. Advocacy groups can lobby the government for change. But none of that is enough to end child poverty.

Because, ultimately, governments don’t care what experts think. Governments care what voters think. They care what you think. At the last election, New Zealanders made it clear that they cared about child poverty, which is why every party made election promises to take action to end child poverty in New Zealand.

But now our politicians are waiting to see how much we care about child poverty, and how many of us care. If they think we don’t really care, they won’t feel the need to deliver on those election promises. But if we let them know that this still matters to us as much as it did when we went into the voting booths last September they’ll be forced to take action.

And that is what a petition can do.

A petition can show politicians that we do care, and are ready to demand change. A petition can put important but tough issues like child poverty on the agenda, and force politicians to talk about them.

This petition is only the first step in our effort to create real change for our most vulnerable kids. But it’s a critical first step, and we need you with us to make it work. Unless we stand together to hold our politicians to their word on this, our kids will continue to suffer.

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