More than a month ago there was a "call to action" on the Global Women thread to help source reusable masks for South Auckland.
This was right at the time when schools in South Auckland required all students to wear masks.
While the Government had distributed three million disposable masks to Aucklanders, many did not end up in the right place and they were unable to be reused. As a result, many families did not receive masks.
Without a mask these children couldn't go to school and this only added to the staggering 30 per cent of children who find themselves having to work instead of in education. Why? Because they have to help support their families (statistics provided by the Middlemore Foundation).
Child poverty is our national disgrace. Having 30 per cent of children being asked to help support their families during a period of national crisis is catastrophic.
The Government's latest figures show that one in five of our tamariki are living in relative poverty.
That is more than 235,400 children - the equivalent of the population of Dunedin and Tauranga combined.
While this might seem like an unfathomably large number, the reality is that huge numbers of Kiwi kids are living in households with extremely low levels of income.
Worse, one in eight children are living in material hardship, regularly going without the everyday basics most of us take for granted.
This is more than just missing out on the occasional treat. These are children who are without adequate clothing, fresh fruit and vegetables, or being unable to visit a doctor when they need to.
Sadly, these child poverty figures are not new. In fact, many Aucklanders live in a virtual gated community, so separated from South Auckland that the problem simply doesn't have an impact on them. Becoming so accustomed to hearing the statistics, they no longer see the tamariki behind the number.
Are we slowly coming to accept this as the new normal?
Child poverty is quickly becoming an issue that has been placed in the too-hard basket.
After all, we have heard our politicians tell us for years that they will solve child poverty with a new policy intervention or increased spending. And while this might appeal to our middle-class sensibilities, little actually seems to change.
For example, after being elected National leader, John Key spoke about his determination to help all New Zealanders realise the Kiwi dream.
He said an incoming National Government would fix the rungs on the ladder of opportunity that had become broken and would work to address the problems of a growing underclass.
Despite making changes to the welfare system and implementing a new approach to social investment, the gap continued to grow between the haves and have nots.
Fast forward nearly 10 years and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern spoke enthusiastically about her goal of ending child poverty in New Zealand in the lead-up to the 2017 election.
So serious was she about making a difference, she created a new Cabinet position tasked with Child Poverty Reduction and gave it to herself where she shepherded through the Child Poverty Reduction Act, requiring the Government to both report on and set targets to reduce and hardship in New Zealand.
Yet, despite better measurement, the changes have not improved our child poverty statistics.
This is not to say that both Key and Ardern have not been genuine when they have talked about child poverty. They have. The problem is that poverty is a complex and difficult problem for which there is no easy answer.
This time around, child poverty has hardly even rated a mention on the campaign trail.
Drowned out by Covid and personality politics, the challenges young people face in poorer households has been pushed to one side.
This is a travesty because one thing is certain, and it is that Covid is only going to make the situation worse. Already are we seeing it in unexpected ways.
The closures of schools during lockdown, for example, saw kids who rely on school breakfasts and lunches going hungry through no fault of their own.
While some might find it easy to blame parents, the reality is that there is simply not enough money in some households to feed everyone.
Kids in poverty often suffer from isolation and are at a higher risk of developing a mental illness.
Being unable to attend school for large parts of the year will have meant many children were cut off from their friends and support networks, exacerbating the problems they face.
In fact, social service providers in South Auckland are already seeing increased levels of anxiety and desperation among the young people they are working with.
And indications are things will only get worse.
It is becoming clear that Covid will deliver the biggest hit to our economy in decades, and economic downturns always impact the most vulnerable the hardest.
Those people on minimum wage, casual contracts or who are on the edge of the employment market are the most likely to lose their jobs and are the least likely to be able to absorb the economic shock.
And the massive investment that was required by the Government to keep our economy going during the lockdown inevitably means there is going to be less money available to support those in need.
But we need to act, and we need to do so quickly.
Previous recessions have demonstrated the devastating long-term societal impact entrenched unemployment and hardship can have on our communities, particularly on young people.
In fact, many of our entrenched long-term child poverty statistic can be traced back to the economic disruption in the 1980s and 1990s.
While as a country we have done well managing Covid, the reality is its economic impact is going to be with us long after the pandemic has ended.
That is why it is so disappointing our politicians have been quiet on how we tackle the impact of the long-term economic challenges we face and its effect on young people.
Simply put, our young people deserve better.
As for the masks in the South Auckland. There was a rally to support the "call to action" among the women present, and corporates and individuals provided funding to help support masks for the children of New Zealand.
Key questions for our political parties
1.If you win this election, what are the key child poverty outcomes that we should hold you to account on in 2023?
2.How are you going to empower organisations to help their communities?
3. How are you going to return the 30 per cent of tamariki who are supporting their whānau to get back into school?
• Cecilia Robinson is co-founder and co-CEO of Tend, and founder and director of My Food Bag