The Green Party has attacked the Government for its lack of support for struggling women and children, in what it says are discriminatory reforms against the vulnerable.

In a speech at the party's annual meeting this morning, co-leader Metiria Turei spoke of a widening wealth gap in New Zealand.

She said this trend was worsened by what she felt was a tendency by the Government to blame poor families and children for their struggle.

"For hundreds of thousands of our littlest people, Aotearoa is empty of the hope that the rest of us base our dreams on.


"But this is not a place where people are poor because they make bad choices, as [Prime Minister John] Key has said."

She backed the Living Wage Campaign launched by the Service and Food Workers' Union, which called for a wage which reflected the cost of living.

The living wage was first raised by Labour leader David Shearer in April.

Mrs Turei promised that if elected, Greens would give the children of beneficiaries an in-work tax credit, and would extend paid parental leave to six months.

She emphasised the importance of education as a strategic investment for children, and said the party would repeal controversial changes such as class size.

The Greens co-leader also made a rare personal criticism of Social Development Minister Paula Bennett, saying her welfare reforms belittled women.

"For all the modern feminist advances we have made, the solo mum remains the primary target for society's most vitriolic personal attacks - led these days by Paula Bennett who knows only too well how much it hurts, but plunges the knife in anyway."

Co-leader Russel Norman will speak at the annual meeting tomorrow, focussing on the economy and environment.