New Zealand's child poverty rate could have a grave impact on the country's future, according to Unicef's national advocacy manager.
A Unicef report published yesterday criticised New Zealand's child poverty and child homicide rates, which are higher than most developed countries, as well the high levels of youth unemployment.
Unicef's national advocacy manager Barbara Lambourn said the report contradicted claims the Government was taking action against child abuse.
"It's not the size of the economy that matters, it's actually the policies inacted by Government that make the difference.
"We don't see that successive governments, over the last 20 years, have put children at the centre of their decision making."
Lambourn said New Zealand was "sliding down" the international rankings and that could be a very serious issue in the future.
One of the ways to improve New Zealand's ranking was to introduce a programme to provide school children with food, Lambourn said.
"[New Zealand has] an opportunity to look at that now with the Food in Schools Bill coming up."
Britain and Australia both ranked higher than New Zealand in the report.
New Zealand's rank out of 35 countries:
- 21st countries for levels of Child Poverty
- 24th for child homicide rates
- 32nd for young people not in education, training or unemployment.