Paula Bennett disputes UNICEF poverty report

Acting Prime Minister Paula Bennett has disputed a UNICEF report that highlights New Zealand's woeful child poverty statistics.

The report, released Thursday, places New Zealand:

  • 38th for ensuring children's health and wellbeing, out of 41 European and OECD countries
  • 34th for promoting decent work and economic growth
  • 33rd for promoting peace, justice and strong institutions
  • 26th for reducing inequalities.

New Zealand couldn't be ranked on its efforts to eliminate child poverty because the Government refuses to measure it.

Ms Bennett told The AM Show the Government is "absolutely taking it seriously".

"I do question some of the data and the way they've collected that. They've got an EU definition they use and they want us to collect it to, and we collect it differently."

Labour deputy leader Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand was one of only four countries in the report that doesn't officially measure child poverty - the others being South Korea, Chile and Turkey.

"No one else is disputing the way you gather the stats," said Ms Ardern. "We should be topping those league tables when it comes to child wellbeing."

In response to the UNICEF report, Dr Jess Berenston of the Morgan Foundation posted a graph on Twitter from her book Pennies From Heaven, which suggests child poverty was much lower in the 1980s than it is now.

Her research pinpoints the beginning of the decline in 1991 - with Finance Minister Ruth Richardson's infamous 'Mother of all Budgets', which massively cut welfare spending.

New Zealand's failure to address child poverty was highlighted in an Amnesty International report in February, and slammed by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in October last year.