The Prime Minister's office has apologised for misleading comments about New Zealand's child poverty figures.
Jacinda Ardern has claimed poverty figures are improving but incorrectly suggested the data included children living in non-private dwellings.
"I believe that, for material hardship, the [Material Hardship] survey does pick up people in non-private dwellings but for the Household Economic Survey, it doesn't."
But Ardern's chief press secretary has since apologised, clarifying the data does not include this.
"The Prime Minister asked me to clarify if the Material Hardship Survey picked up people in non-private dwellings which I checked with officials who confirmed it 'doesn't' however when relaying this to the Prime Minister... I accidentally relayed it as 'it does.'"
Ardern's office, however, there were about 4000 children in emergency housing nationwide - well within the margin of error for the survey's analysis.
Explaining some of the math jargon surrounding the report, mathmetician Dimitrios Mitsotakis said studies often couldn't include the entire population - which is why a margin of error was included.
"We always study part of the population, not the whole population," he told AM.
"That's the thing with the margin of error... we expect that the error we make, or the tolerance we have, is about the margin of error - that's a percentage, usually."
Ardern's office, meanwhile, said more funding directed towards Stats New Zealand would improve the survey's reach in the future.
The full statement is below:
As discussed earlier the Prime Minister made an error at post-cab on Monday based on incorrect information I provided her. I corrected it with the journalist who asked the question straight after.
The Prime Minister asked me to clarify if the Material Hardship Survey picked up people in non-private dwellings which I checked with officials who confirmed it "doesn't" however when relaying this to the Prime Minister via test during post-cab I accidentally relayed it as "it does".
I apologise for this error.
However its important to be clear that the MSD Child Poverty Report and the Household Economic Survey that informs it are both long-standing and respected data series that provide the best picture we have of poverty in New Zealand.
The MSD Child Poverty Report have been widely used in policy development and advice to ministers from both National and Labour Governments over the years. The report is based mainly on Stats NZ’s Household Economic Survey (HES) which surveys households in private dwellings.
Lower socio-economic areas are actually well represented in the data as indicated, for example, by the ability to break Auckland into six areas and report the different living standards in each.
It doesn't include children in emergency housing as these are not private dwellings.
There are around 4000 children in emergency housing nationwide. The material hardship numbers for 2020-21 are around 125,000 (with a margin of error of around ±10,000).
Therefore even if all these children were in material hardship in their current circumstances (and many won't be as their household housing costs are less than private rentals), the number is well within the margin of error and would not change the overall picture very much (from 11.0 percent to 11.3 percent). The report does not ignore them, it just notes they are not counted.
As the Prime Minister said on Monday the Government has allocated extra funding Statistics New Zealand to try and better measure persistent poverty, so we are keen to get the best possible information in this space so we have the best picture possible of child poverty in New Zealand.