During Christopher Luxon's tour of KidsCan's Auckland distribution centre on Friday, the charity's CEO and founder, Julie Chapman, used the opportunity to inform the National Party leader of the dire state of child poverty in Aotearoa.
“We’re seeing unprecedented levels of need,” said Chapman.
KidsCan was founded by Chapman in 2005, at the time providing services to over 40 schools that were struggling with children in poverty.
In 2022, it's estimated they will assist 1000.
During his tour of the charity's Auckland centre, Luxon asked Chapman if the levels of child poverty had changed in New Zealand during that 18-year period.
“To be frank,” Chapman responded, “poverty is the worst it’s [ever] been for families.”
Luxon later told reporters inflation was a major cause of financial struggles nationwide.
“What’s obvious from these conversations as we move around... is that the cost of living crisis is actually impacting and hurting everyone everywhere across New Zealand.
"It falls on us to have better economic management to stop inflation. Which is causing people to fall behind."
But Chapman said the main driver of the current poverty levels was housing.
“We know that families are spending 50-60 per cent of their incomes on housing, and that’s forcing them to cram into small houses together to make ends meet.
“For us, we would like to see a crystal clear solution to this issue and get these families into warm dry housing.”
When asked if poverty was the number one priority for a National government, Luxon emphasised the importance of improving the economy as a whole.
“Getting higher incomes for all New Zealanders is our priority, that’s the thing that lifts people out of poverty.”