A new study has revealed a large number of children are living in persistent poverty, with Maori and Pacific Island children worst off.
The Otago University study found thousands of Kiwi children, under the age of 17, are living below the poverty line.
"We know that if children are in long periods of deprivation or low income that they're much more likely to not only have poor outcomes as children, they're likely to have poor outcomes as adults," said University of Otago Researcher Dr Fiona Imlach Gunasekara.
Counsellor Bill Logan said poverty from a young age can lead to violence, alcoholism and depression in later life.
"It's not only poor people who are hurt by poverty, it's everyone who is hurt," said Logan.
The study examined data on almost 5000 children between 2002 and 2009.
It found 16% lived in persistent low income conditions, while 13% experienced persistent deprivation. Maori and Pacific Island children were twice as likely to be living in severe poverty.
The effect poverty has on education is cause for concern for the Labour Party.
"Having them arrive at school hungry means that they can't work and can't concentrate.
"Having them drop behind in those first couple of years because their reading is not up to scratch, because they can't get reading recovery, means they go on at 16 and drop out completely," said Labour Leader David Shearer.
The study defined poverty as children living in a household which earned less that 50% of the gross median household income level.
In 2009 that was less than $28,295 a year.
The study requested by the Children's Commission will be used to set targets for poverty reduction and legislation.