Reducing poverty needs a united approach

  • Te Ururoa Flavell
Maori Development

Speaking after the UNICEF Big Picture Art Exhibition in Parliament today the Minister for Māori Development, Hon Te Ururoa Flavell described child and whānau poverty “as a crisis that demands all political parties and agencies to work together on reducing the inequities in our country.”

Mr Flavell described the estimated 100,000 tamariki Māori living in poverty as a shameful record for our country.

“These are children whose greatest challenge comes from having been born into a situation they have no control over.

“Growing up in a poor whānau means tamariki are more vulnerable to life-threatening diseases, perform badly in school, and ultimately, are less likely to experience success as adults.”

Mr Flavell said the consequences of poverty and inequality can determine a child’s destiny and that of future generations.

He said the Whānau Ora approach is an attempt to bring relevant agencies together to address the needs of tamariki and their whānau.

In Budget 2014, $15 million was secured for Whānau Ora navigators who are crucial in helping families to plan, develop and pursue solutions that work for them and their circumstances. 

Other Government initiatives included increasing the age of eligibility for free doctors’ visits and prescriptions for children under the age of six to 13 years; an expansion of  free drop-in sore-throat clinics for a further 90,000 children and young people who are at risk of getting rheumatic fever – which if left untreated can lead to severe damage to the heart; insulating low income homes at $50m in grants; healthy homes and an increase in the parental tax credit in both amount (from $150 a week to $220 a week) and duration (from eight to 10 weeks).

“But so much more needs to be done – by all of us. Reducing poverty is one of my key priorities and I’m prepared to work hard with all agencies and political colleagues to ensure we impact positively on the lives of whānau. We cannot afford to ignore this problem with piecemeal, short-term and uncoordinated efforts,” says Mr Flavell.

 He said that through the art exhibition the voices of children and young people reverberate clearly and profoundly.

“They remind us that investing in the early years of our tamariki demands immediate and decisive action. They remind us that tackling child poverty requires our collective and unbridled commitment to change,” says Mr Flavell.