It's "a bit too soon" for our new deputy prime minister Paula Bennett to commit to concrete measures the government can use to monitor child poverty in New Zealand.
"I'm kind of only day two in the job... I need to sit down with Bill English, and we'll be going over this in the next few weeks," an ill-prepared Ms Bennett said on TVNZ's Breakfast programme today.
Ms Bennett fronted an interview this morning over child poverty rates, handed down today in the Child Poverty Monitor 2016 report.
She was grilled on the alarming figures, which show that 90,000 Kiwi kids were living in severe poverty.
Child Poverty Monitor 2016, released by the commissioner's office, also shows that 295,000 children (28 per cent) are in low-income homes.
When asked if she accepted the figures from the report, Ms Bennett said she hadn't read the report yet.
"I've only seen the headlines... I want to look at that extensively."
She did however accept that there were New Zealand children out there who were experiencing genuine hardship.
"It's one of the reasons we increased benefit levels, it's one of the reasons that I spent so much time on social housing and other issues," she said.
"We accept there are children living in NZ, in circumstances where we don't think they should be."
Ms Bennett said it was a priority for the government but tackling the poverty issue wasn't as easy as "throwing more money at a family".
It was more complex than that. It was also about addressing intergenerational issues in the home, if that was indeed the case.
Labour leader Andrew Little proposed to report on child poverty annually, if the party ever became government.
He said it should be a priority for the government to not only highlight the issue in a separate report for the children's commissioner, but also make it part of the Finance Minister's budget address to parliament.
He slammed the government for not commissioning the report on a "shameful blackspot in New Zealand".
The Monitor is a joint project by the Children's Commissioner, the J R McKenzie Trust and Otago University. It is in its fourth year.
At least 17 material hardship concerns for children in low income households
Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft says New Zealand can't afford to have "another winter" when it comes to children who experience poverty and genuine hardship.
A new child poverty report, which was handed down today, revealed that 90,000 New Zealand kids were living in severe poverty.
Judge Becroft says setting targets and creating a plan to prevent that from happening are well overdue and vital.
Judge Becroft told Breakfast today there were at least 17 material hardship concerns for children living in low income households.
These included access to sturdy shoes, raincoats, good sturdy clothing, access to heating, well-heated homes without mould, regular doctor and dental visits and access to fruit, vegetables and meat.
"Without good food and heating there is greater exposure to disease, rheumatic fever, meningococcal disease and hospitalisation," he said.