A she'll be right attitude among New Zealanders has been blamed for a lack of social progress, which is leaving children and young people in hardship.
The Salvation Army has called for a new style of political leadership to confront growing problems of inadequate housing, child poverty and rising youth unemployment.
In its annual State of the Nation report, the organisation suggests New Zealand's leaders are failing to deliver adequate solutions to the country's most pressing social issues.
The report points to crime and punishment as areas where strong political and public service leadership has been shown to make a difference.
However, it says little has been achieved over the past five years in tackling problems such as affordable housing, reducing child poverty and providing work for young people.
"Unfortunately, the leadership we have seen in the areas of crime and punishment is not dealing with entrenched social scourges of inadequate housing, child poverty and youth unemployment," says Major Campbell Roberts, head of The Salvation Army's social policy and parliamentary unit.
In the report The Salvation Army gives New Zealand leaders a harsh no progress grading in these three areas.
"Sometimes it seems that as a nation we're taking a she'll be right attitude to policy," said Roberts.
"This results in people living in situations of unnecessary hardship."
The charity said in the last year it has dealt with over 120,000 cases.
Roberts warned that incidents of social hardship will become "the new normal if a complacent attitude becomes ingrained in the public's view".
"The Salvation Army is calling for bold and visionary leadership that values the people of this country and changes the circumstances of children falling into poverty," he said.
Read the full report here.
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