A consortium of 33 child advocacy groups is working to make the welfare of the nation's children a priority in this year's election.

The Tick for Kids campaign, which launched in Auckland today, is backed by organisations including UNICEF New Zealand, the Child Poverty Action Group, anti-child abuse group Mana Ririki, the Post Primary Teachers' Association, Plunket and the New Zealand Medical Association.

"Children have been neglected by our politicians and policy-makers for too long," the campaign's spokesperson Deborah Morris-Travers said today.

"They have been the collateral damage for many policies and laws that have led to increasing poverty. That fact that at least one baby dies from an illness linked to socio-economic status each week is unacceptable. New Zealanders have got to stand up for children and keep them in mind when they vote on 20 September."


According to the 2013 Annual Child Poverty Monitor, a joint project between the Children's Commissioner, the J R McKenzie Trust and Otago University, about 180,000 children in New Zealand (17 per cent) regularly go without essential items such as fresh fruit and vegetables, shoes that fit, their own bed and a warm house.

Children in deprived communities are more likely to become ill and more likely to experience poor treatment as a result of higher levels of stress and mental illness in the adults around them.

They are more likely to miss out on doctor's visits and prescriptions, access to computers for education, school trips, swimming lessons and music lessons.

Tick for Kids will encourage members of the public to learn about policies that affect child poverty and to hold events to educate others in their communities.

In the campaign's launch event, held this morning in Grey Lynn, school children were given the chance to quiz Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei, National MP Alfred Ngaro, Brendan Horan MP, Internet Party Leader Laila Harre and candidates Michael Wood (Labour) and Te Hira Paenga (Maori Party).

Also this month, Victoria University's Jonathan Boston and Otago University's Simon Chapple will launch Child Poverty in New Zealand, described by the Children's Commissioner as "the definitive book on child poverty in New Zealand".

A launch event and panel discussion will be held today at the University of Auckland and June 20 in Wellington.

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