Kiwis hit back after PM Jacinda Ardern declines to call cost of living spike a crisis

Kiwis are hitting back at the Prime Minister after she declined to call the cost of living spike a crisis. 

Speaking with AM on Monday Jacinda Ardern acknowledged it was a tough time for many Kiwis, but stopped short of calling it a crisis.

"I wouldn't describe it that way, there is an impact that people are feeling undeniably but I wouldn't describe it in that way," Ardern told AM. 

It comes as the cost of living skyrockets with Kiwis spending on average an extra $4000 to $5000 in the past 12 months on basics such as food, rent and fuel. The majority of the increase is fuel with an extra $678 a year at the pump on average. 

Mum of five Krystine Nation and concerned Kiwi Steve Christodoulou say it is a crisis and families are struggling. Speaking with AM On Tuesday, Nation said her family's food bill has increased $7000 in the last year. 

"To say there isn't a crisis… she [Ardern] needs to get on the ground floor," she said. "I couldn't understand why we were struggling so much when in the first lockdown I was teaching people how to buy their groceries for $200 a week and live comfortably…In just over a year my groceries have increased $7000 annually. That's a lot, my husband hasn't received a $7000 increase in his pay. Not only that there is the petrol, the rent, I have spoken to so many people about this."

Nation says she's recently finished studying but can't afford to work because the basics are so expensive. 

"This is something that is so embarrassing to say but I cannot afford to go to work and I think that's the case for a lot of women after having babies. 

"It's cheaper for me to stay at home and not pay the extra petrol, not pay the huge daycare costs, and the extra food for lunches. So I just spent a lot of money on a degree I cannot use."

Christodoulou agrees, saying the increased cost of living is impacting his family too even though they aren't low income. 

"It really irked me when the Prime Minister said this is not a crisis because look I am not going to lie, I wouldn't classify myself as being on the breadline however there are things we notice changing drastically.

"There used to be a time when you could go to the supermarket and purchase three packets of nappies for $32 but you don't see those yellow sticker specials anymore, you pay $22 for a pack of nappies now and if I am feeling the pinch then the people who are really at the bottom are really, really going to be struggling." 

Christodoulou says petrol prices are also hitting his family. 

"You really do think before you put your key in the car, 'do I really need to nip into town now or can I hold off, can I wait until I have to pick the kids up from kindy or have to go to an appointment'."

He says the Prime Minister should remove Auckland's regional fuel tax and reduce GST on petrol temporarily to help families who are struggling. 

Ardern has previously ruled out removing tax on fuel but said the Government has committed to not increasing it this term.

"The increases we have seen at the pump since even last December, it's been significant and that has not come from an increase in excise," she told AM. 

"We've said that we won't increase excise over this term. People have seen increases regardless - it has not come from the Government. 

She said removing the tax would cut billions from the Government's spending on things like building and maintaining roads.