Kiwi mum who turned to charity for help says not to 'judge a book by its cover'

A Kiwi mum who struggled to pay her child's large medical bill says not to judge a book by its cover after she had to turn to a charity for help.

Data by Tatauranga/Stats NZ published last month shows about 202,000 kids are living below the poverty line, after deducting housing costs, in the year to June 2023. That's an increase of about 22 percent on the year prior. 

The data showed that two of the three primary measures of child poverty increased.

"It's harrowing," said Susan Glasgow, chief executive of Variety NZ of the poverty data.

"What it doesn't show are the children who are living in temporary or emergency accommodation, so they're not even counted in the numbers," she told AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green.

She said the number of tamariki living in poverty is much higher than official statistics.

"We hear every single day at Variety parents and caregivers coming to us, asking for help, because they are in a cost of surviving crisis."

Variety has just launched its national Crisis Appeal, hoping to attract 2500 people to sponsor a child on its waitlist, for $50 a month.

Glasgow said the $50 provides "the absolute basics that kids really need just to survive", including bedding, warm clothing, school uniforms, stationery, shoes, and even underpants.

Variety mum Sue Stone told AM she didn't even know about Variety until recently.

"Last year I was really struggling. I had a huge medical bill for one of my children. I was like: how on earth am I going to get this money?" She said.

"You run out of places to go."

Stone then went onto Variety's website and said it was "so touching" to discover how much the charity could help her.

"Don't judge the book by the cover," she said through tears.

Watch the full interview above.