Tukunga pāpāho

Prime Minister's punitive welfare sanctions will harm children and their learning

19 Hui 2024

New Zealand’s largest education union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, strongly condemns the punitive sanctions against people on welfare benefits Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has announced this afternoon, saying that any sanctions a government takes against beneficiaries directly impacts their children and their learning.

Mark Potter, president of NZEI Te Riu Roa, says that educators across primary schooling and in early childhood education are working tirelessly to teach and support tamariki during the day, but without food or housing security the job of teaching children becomes very difficult.

“We all know that whānau are struggling with the rising cost of living; and the children of beneficiaries will be feeling it doubly so. Children need a full stomach and a roof over their head to learn.

“Data from the PISA international survey from December last year shows us that there is a strong correlation between food security and learning, and we know that food security disproportionately affects tamariki Māori, who make up nearly a quarter of the students currently enrolled in schooling.

“Evidence also shows that welfare sanctions are not effective ways to get people into jobs. The Prime Minister’s sanctions will merely further punish our country’s most vulnerable citizens. This step undercuts his government's commitment to ensuring every child experiences success in learning, because it will only increase the numbers of children living in poverty who will then struggle with learning.”