Tuesday, 12 April 2016
Uncovering the Pathways to Poverty in New Zealand
Around 10 to 15 percent of New Zealand families are stuck in persistent poverty that will keep them trapped there for
years. Maxim Institute’s third report in its Heart of Poverty series focuses on the pathways leading those families into
poverty, and what has been proven to help them walk out.
Author of the report, Kieran Madden says that “while quite a number of the families we see in poverty statistics in a
given year will escape with the help of the system we already have, for the those in persistent poverty, the system
simply isn’t working."
"Because persistent poverty leaves the deepest scars, we need to focus our efforts on these families,” says Madden.
The report identifies the main pathways to persistent poverty for most families as the loss of work, or work with
irregular or insufficient hours.
“For parents to provide for their children and participate in the economy and society, their ability to attain and keep
a well-paid, stable job is crucial,” Madden says. “A renewed focus on promoting apprenticeships, on-the-job training,
and professional partnerships for those with low skills and poor qualifications is key in our attempts to address this
The report also shows that low educational attainment by children in low-income families now, is the clearest pathway to
poverty for future generations. Evidence suggests that an education that prepares children for workplaces of the future
must develop social-emotional “soft” skills alongside more traditional academic skills.
"Because up to 80% of educational achievement is a function of the home environment, we need to look beyond the
schoolyard for solutions,” says Kieran Madden. “Government, business, community organisations and families themselves
all have to play their part."