There is only one truancy officer for the 80 schools in the Waitematā East area, despite truancy being on the rise.
The details are contained in a police truancy overview for the Waitematā District (WMD) - obtained by the Herald - from July last year.
It found that just under two-thirds of students - 62 per cent in 2019 - regularly attended school in the district, and unjustified absences - 3.9 per cent in 2019 - had increased each year.
Such absences tended to make young people more likely to commit crime, the report said, and were a factor contributing to street gang membership.
Truancy services were outsourced, but local schools were unhappy with this arrangement.
"Some WMD schools are currently frustrated with the current outsourcing model and would prefer to employ their own officers if it could be funded by the Ministry of Education," the report said.
"Currently there is one attendance officer servicing the whole of Waitematā East Area, which encompasses approximately 80 schools. Some attendance officers are reportedly not easily contactable, not willing to accept cases or providing poor results for priority cases."
Truancy was mostly observed among young people from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, the report said. The largest increases were among students at decile 1 and 2 schools, Māori and Pacific students and Year 1-8 students.
National Party education spokesman Paul Goldsmith said truancy services were "woefully under-resourced".
"Part of the problem is that schools are supposed to refer students who are not turning up so these services can chase them up, but a lot of times the schools don't.
"The reality is that if they did, then they would be totally overwhelmed. They're overwhelmed already."
He questioned the Government's priorities.
"Doing away with the fees for NCEA exams, for example, you might be able to argue that for the poorest New Zealanders, for whom it may be a barrier. But they've done it for everybody."
Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti said there was no one answer to reverse declining attendance rates, which have been falling since 2013.
"By refreshing our curriculum, providing lunches and period products in schools, eliminating exam fees, and removing school donations, we are making sure school is interesting and relevant to young people, which will contribute to improved attendance."
She said she would review truancy services in the coming year.
"It is clear local knowledge and priorities from teachers, principals, ākonga and whānau must form part of the solution."
Goldsmith responded: "That's the Government's standard response to any problem, which is to announce a review."
He called for attendance data to be released as soon as possible, noting the most recent data was for term one last year.
It showed only 50.5 per cent of students attended school regularly, though this period included the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.