254,000 Kiwi kids living in poverty after bills are paid - statistics

Hundreds of thousands of New Zealand children are being left in poverty because of housing costs, new statistics show.

The number of children living in poverty has been decreasing steadily since 2015, but rose in the year 2017 to June 2018, according to Stats NZ data.

The data shows that after New Zealand families pay rent, mortgage and bills, 254,000 children are left living in poverty - an increase of 0.4 percent in the last year.

In addition, 183,000 of children are living in poverty before household bills are deducted - an increase of 2.3 percent - while 148,000 children live in a household experiencing "material hardship".

"Material hardship is a way of measuring poverty by understanding what households do or don't have because of financial constraints," said household statistics senior manager Jason Attewell.

"Examples include not having two good pairs of shoes, putting off a visit to the doctor or not being able to pay gas or electricity on time."

These statistics are the result of a survey of between 3000 and 5500 households which took place over 12 months between 2017 and 2018.

These figures will serve as the main baseline for the current and future Government to assess progress.

Last year the Government passed its Child Poverty Reduction Act, which requires all Governments to set and monitor child poverty reduction targets.

The Act requires the Government to set three-year and 10-year targets on four primary measures. 

These four measures are: 

- Low income after housing costs (below 50 percent of median income, moving line) 

- Low income before housing costs (below 50 percent median, fixed line) 

- Material hardship 

- A persistence measure that will study how long a household has been in poverty. This measure will be reported on from July 2025.

There are also six supplementary measures to allow further international comparison. Governments are not required to set targets for the supplementary measures, but may choose to do so, according to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The Government statistician must report back annually, with the first report set for release in early 2020.

Due to increased funding for Stats NZ, this report will sample a larger size - 20,000 households, up from 5500.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Labour's goal was to halve child poverty in 10 years, "taking the rate of poverty and hardship among our children to world-leading low levels."