Back to school costs limiting Kiwi kids' future success - children's charity

Many of the next generation of talented Kiwis won't be successful due to the insurmountable costs associated with going back to school, according to the head of a children's charity.

Children across New Zealand are returning to school this week after the summer break, but Lorraine Taylor, chief executive of Variety New Zealand, said not all will be able to take advantage of the opportunities available to them.

"We are seeing all the time children sitting at home because they are not able to participate," Ms Taylor told The AM Show.

"[Extra-curricular activities] give kids the opportunity not only to participate, but they learn such valuable skills, whether that is about being in a team, having to front up, excelling, having to do the things we have to do on every regular day."

But it's not just extra-curricular activities that can be costly.

Mangere Budgeting Services chief executive Darryl Evans told Newshub in early January that schools often dictate what uniforms, stationary and other equipment parents should buy for their kids.

"Back to school costs per child can be around $900 and if you have two or three kids going to school that can be a massive hit in the pocket," he said.

More than one in four children in New Zealand live in a low-income household with families that struggle to make ends meet, while roughly 155,000 kids live in "material deprivation", meaning without necessities like a warm home or food, according to the Children's Commissioner.

"That's a huge amount of children missing out on some of the basics that many families take for granted," said Ms Taylor.

"There are children that just don't turn up to school on the first day because their parents don't want to send them unless they have got the right uniform or the right equipment."

She said that means children are missing out on vital opportunities that will set them up for future success, whether it is on the sports field, on the stage or in an academic field.

Ms Taylor said Variety spent over $100,000 on 700 kids last year to participate in extra-curricular activities and has launched a Back to School Appeal to find sponsors for disadvantaged children.