Māori children disproportionately represented across statistics - report

By Te Ao Māori News

Child Poverty Action Group is welcoming the Salvation Army's annual State of the Nation report released today. 

The "Are you Well? Are We Safe? report provides an overview of how New Zealand is doing for the well-being of its citizens. Its prime focus is on children, including comments on child poverty, care and protection as well as educational achievement. 

The latest report shows that policy changes over the past few years have done little toward providing the substantial improvements which current and future generations of children need, to have equitable opportunities and to sustain good outcomes.

In particular, there are still large gaps for Māori children who are disproportionately represented across multiple statistics, including youth offending, education, and those in state care, compared to non-Māori. 

CPAG Co-Convenor Janfrie Wakim says, "It seems clear that there have been no real successes in ameliorating the social inequities and associated health issues that are experienced by families and whānau, and it is critical that a more radical approach is needed to address reform of welfare and justice systems as well as education in Aotearoa. 

"Changes need to be robust enough to have longevity, or they risk fragility and failure." 

CPAG says it is vastly concerning to see there been little in the way of change over the past four years in the nature and extent of adult violence toward children, while the number of children in state care has reached the highest ever recorded.

"It’s critical that we hear from Oranga Tamariki why there should be such an increase," says Wakim. 

"Is it due to changing operational priorities or increased levels of neglect and abuse of children, and are there sufficient resources within the service providers to meet the need?"

The Salvation Army report highlights consistently wide gaps between Maori and non-Maori in terms of social outcomes. The UN draft outcomes report included a recommendation that New Zealand should "continue to work to enhance the rights of Māori and other indigenous minority groups in New Zealand, and provide increased rehabilitative support for Māori prisoners".

CPAG says that as a Nation, Aotearoa should be working hard to close these gaps completely over the next 10 years.