Child poverty is widespread in Tauranga, though much of it is hidden from view, a local social worker says.
Te Tuinga Whanau Trust social worker Jena Young said many locals pretended the problem didn't exist: "It is there, it is real".
Children became sick through inadequate housing, lack of medical care and nutrition, Ms Young said.
For a developed country, New Zealand was falling "way behind", she said.
A Unicef report found New Zealand had one of the highest rates of children not in any form of education, training or employment in the developed world.
The Innocenti Report Card 11, which looks at the state of children in the most advanced economies, found no strong relationship between a country's GDP and overall child wellbeing.