Waitaki households living in poverty

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A recent study shows that 9 percent of children under 14 in the Waitaki region are living in crowded households.

This was just one of the issues identified to be associated with poor health for children in the 2014 Child Poverty Monitor.

The annual study, developed by the Children’s Commissioner, the JR McKenzie Trust and Otago University, aimed to track and address the ongoing issues affecting New Zealand children.

JR McKenzie Trust executive director Iain Hines said the study was vital for improving quality of life.

“You hear about child poverty but you don’t know how big the issue is until you’ve studied it,” he said.

“In Western countries we talk about poverty in relation to the quality of life that we would expect people in their normal lives to have access to.”

This included access to simple necessities such as good, healthcare, adequate housing and clothing.

From these criteria, 260,000 Kiwi children were deemed to be living in poverty.

The Waitaki region had multiple organisations prepared to help out those in need.

Food bank secretary Archdeacon Bernard Wilkinson said Oamaru food banks were in a good position to aid families “because of the unbelievable generosity of the community”.

“I know that there are people that come in with children who are struggling to make ends meet,” he said.

“There are some homes that simply have too many people living in them.”

Growing up in poor conditions was directly related to struggling as adolescents and further into adulthood, said Mr Hines.

“If people live in a state of poverty it’s much harder to get out of that state when you live in a poor household or your health is not so good.

“The long-term goal is that there are not so many people stuck in this kind of situation.”

Mr Wilkinson said offering food parcels was an excellent short-term method for helping families.

“We are aware that there are certainly children in need and something needs to be done.”

By Alastair Lynn