One in four New Zealanders struggle to make ends meet at least once a month while many have felt increasingly nervous about their financial security over the past 12 months, including fears over losing their homes, as inflation hits 7.3 per cent, a new study reveals.
Meanwhile, a woman who has provided support services to those in need in Auckland for 10 years says she has noticed an increase in demand for food parcel services and an "influx" in working class people who don't have enough seeking help.
The new study, released today by not-for-profit organisations Orange Sky and conducted by YouGov, shows many Kiwis are facing financial hardship, such as finding it hard to pay their bills or buy essential items like food.
Sixty-two per cent have struggled financially to make ends meet at least once a year, while 27 per cent have done so at least once a month.
A further one in six (16 per cent) said they struggle to make ends meet at least once a week, according to the study which surveyed 1001 Kiwis over the age of 18 between June 21 and 27 this year.
Fourteen per cent of New Zealanders have been unable to pay rent or bills and have borrowed money or taken out a loan.
It comes as inflation hit 7.3 per cent in the June quarter, the highest increase since 1990, largely driven by rising rents and construction costs for new homes and commercial buildings.
Petrol prices have also increased 32 per cent in the year to the June 2022 quarter, the largest annual increase since the June 1985 quarter, according to Stats NZ's latest Consumer Price Index.
In response to soaring living costs, the Government announced in this year's Budget those who earned less than $70,000 in the past year would receive a total of $350 over three months to help, while it also extended its cut on petrol taxes by 25c per litre until the start of February next year.
Meanwhile, a South Auckland charitable organisation says it has seen an influx of people struggling to feed their families.
"Between our people on benefits, we have now seen an influx of people who are working (but) who just do not have enough money to buy kai to feed their family," said Debbie Munroe, founder of the Waka for Caring shop in Manurewa East.
"Everything's for free. We do food parcels, cooked meals if somebody comes in and they're hungry."
Munroe said between 50-60 people come to their store every day and they hand out roughly 130-150 food parcels per day. This time last year, Munroe said they were handing out roughly 70-80 food packages daily.
"Between the rent, and ... on top of that you've got to pay water rates, you have to have power, you kind of really need to survive with the internet ... and you need gas to go to work, now the prices of our gas is absolutely killing people.
"For them to go to work, something has to give and unfortunately, it's the kai that (they) are giving (up)."
The study found 12 per cent of New Zealanders had to forgo a meal in the last 12 months due to a lack of funds, while 4 per cent have had to sleep rough and 7 per cent have slept on a friend or family member's couch.
Forty-four per cent have had to change their living circumstances due to rising living costs, while the same proportion have had to forgo social occasions due to financial struggles. More than half (54 per cent) of those surveyed said they had experienced increased nervousness about their financial security while 15 per cent of New Zealanders had experienced homelessness before.
The survey used Stats NZ's definition for "homelessness", which includes living in transient or overcrowded housing, on a friend's couch or living on the street for a period of time.
Munroe said they were handing out around 10 blankets a day to families who were cold or couldn't afford to pay for heating. Orange Sky offers a free mobile laundry and shower service for people experiencing homelessness. Operations manager Eddie Uini said people experiencing homelessness were often seeking genuine connection. "While clean clothes, showers and blankets make a massive difference, it's the hours of non-judgmental conversation between volunteers and the friends using our services that I see having the greatest impact."
The organisation also today announced the launch of The 2022 Sudsy Challenge, which it said aimed to reduce the stigmas surrounding homelessness by challenging Kiwis to wear the same clothes for three consecutive days in a bid to spark meaningful conversations on the state of homelessness throughout the challenge.