The rate of families experiencing income poverty is at 29 percent, according to this years' Child Poverty Monitor Technical report.
Children are far more likely to be in poverty than the elderly, with the rate for children sitting at 29 percent compared with 13 percent those aged over 65 years old.
Fourteen percent of children go without basic essentials such as fruit, vegetables, a warm house and decent clothing.
About 9 percent of children are in severe poverty and three out of five kids living in poverty will live that way for much of their childhood.
"When almost one in ten of our children are at the very hardest end of poverty it tells us we've got a long way to go," says Children's Commissioner Dr Russell Wills.
He says things are tougher than they were 30 years ago, with 15 percent of families experiencing income poverty in 1985.
"We know children in our most deprived communities are more likely to die before they turn one year old than children from communities that are better off," says University of Otago's NZ Child and Youth Epidemiology Service (NZCYES) director Dr Jean Simpson.
"The negative health outcomes associated with child poverty are also starkly apparent in our high rates of hospital admissions for infectious and respiratory diseases. These diseases are related to living conditions," she says.
Dr Simpson says damp, cold houses with overcrowding can lead to rheumatic fever and have serious lifelong implications.
"Reducing the number of young children living in poverty is critical to improving the health of the whole population," she says.
Dr Wills calls for a clear national plan to improve our children's poverty rate, and to empathise with those with limited choices.
"There is plenty of great stuff happening out there for children – from the Government making doctor's visits free, to mums in Invercargill setting up school food programmes," he says.
The Child Poverty Monitor is a partnership between the Office of the Children's Commissioner, NZCYES and the J R McKenzie Trust.
The partnership aims to find annual measures of child poverty in New Zealand.