Assistant Māori Children's Commissioner says Government shouldn't have to 'wait for data' to fix child poverty

The Assistant Māori Children's Commissioner says the Government should just get on with fixing Māori and Pasifika poverty issues rather than wait for more data to come out.

Figures released by Stats NZ on Tuesday showed as of June 2020, almost one in five Māori children (19 percent) lived in households going with six or more of the 17 basic needs.

The rate was higher for Pacific children at 25.4 percent, compared with 11 percent for all New Zealand children.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Newshub Nation the reason why she hasn't had a specific target to lift Māori and Pasifika children out of poverty is because they've had no data.

"We've said, 'actually, as a Government, now, you've got to measure it and you've got to set targets to reduce it'. One of the reasons we haven't done that in the past is we had no data.

"So we put $20 million in to say, let's start measuring what's happening for our Māori children and our Pasifika children and children with disabilities or in households with disabilities."

Assistant Māori Commissioner for Children Glenis Philip-Barbara says it's time we forget about the data and get on with it.

"Well frankly, we can invest in measuring the exact state of their despair, or we can actually get on with doing the work in communities," she told Newshub Nation.

"And I do think we have an opportunity now for the Government to actually be led by those communities to understand what's working in those communities to address these issues.

"I'd far rather see us invest our money addressing the problem, than polishing it."

Ardern says she wants to make sure the data measurements are reliable.

"I would want to make sure, and even Stats NZ are caveating a bit what we're getting at the moment because it is small numbers, but we are going to keep doing that counting."

But Philip-Barbara says it's a problem that can be solved.

"She's talking about the reliability of the data which is a problem that can be solved, but what I'm saying is we need to get out to those communities, we need to understand what's working and the Government needs to get behind them and support them.

"I'd far rather see us solving the problem of poverty and see the stats move in that way."