WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

The browning of child poverty – are we concerned?

Sr Marcellin Wilson
9 November 2011

With the increasing incidence of violence against children, Rev Hone Kaa set up a Maori Child Advocacy group in Auckland known as Te Kahui Mana Ririki to advocate for vulnerable Maori and Pasifika children.

In mid-October as part of a social justice reflection in the archdiocese, the Maori Child Advocacy Group’s chair Anton Blank gave a lecture on ‘Child Poverty and Maori and Pasifika Children’ at the Mercy Centre.

He listed a number of reasons for the disparity between the children of Maori and Pasifika families and those of Pakeha.

In Aotearoa New Zealand there is clear evidence of disparities between Maori and Pasifika and other groups across the health, education, and welfare sectors.

Of the 200,000 children living below the poverty line in our country, just over half are Maori (59,651) and Pasifika (44,120).

Referring to a report on Maori and Pasifika child poverty launched in August, He Ara Hou – The Pathway Forward, Mr Blank elaborated on the health, education and welfare aspects of Maori and Pasifika child poverty.

Key Messages in the report include that ‘Māori and Pasifika children suffer disproportionately in low living standards. This has high social and economic costs, and is reflected in the low well-being of many Māori and Pasifika children.
Just over half of the 200,000 Aotearoa New Zealand children living below the poverty line are Māori and Pasifika. As a result Māori and Pasifika children experience significantly poorer health, educational, and social outcomes than other groups.’

Also, ‘a combination of high dependency on welfare benefits, high rates of single parenthood and a concentration of workers in the manufacturing industries keep Māori and Pasifika families trapped in poverty.

‘Working-aged Māori and Pasifika adults are vulnerable to the cyclical nature of the country’s economy and this creates a complex and enduring trap for them and their families. New Zealand is developing a brown social underclass.’

After hearing Anton’s presentation we were left a sense of responsibility to respond to the government’s Green Paper on ‘Vulnerable Children’.

We are often given insights into social inequalities without any practical means of addressing them; however, in this case, we have a response.

Therefore we are calling for support from concerned parishioners who would assist with the preparation of a submission before the due date in February 2012.

A public research and scoping evening will be held at St Thomas More Church Foyer on Tuesday November 29 at 7.30pm. Contact: Marcellinrsm@xtra.co.nzor 819 8326