This wee item tweaked our interest because the overwhelming evidence is that the neo-liberal economic policies espoused by Thatcher and her fellow travellers were not notable for lifting people out of poverty, although they did increase the income gap between the rich and everybody else. But rather than just believe us, let's look at what the government's data says.
On p82 of Perry's report is a graph (Graph 1) of New Zealand's Gini coefficient going back to 1982, two years before the Rogergnomes started their rampage.
And what about "lifting people out of poverty"? Not much evidence for that sorry, Gerry. There are a number of ways to measure 'poverty' in rich countries, and different demographic groups have different poverty rates - in other words, hardship is not dispersed evenly among the population. Graph 2 below (Perry p94) shows the proportion of the population living below 60% of the median income after housing costs (note: the before housing costs (BHC) annotation in the graph is incorrect).
The different lines are for different base years - it's difficult to hold years constant over a long period of time because so many other things change. The important thing to note is that the shape of the line is the same no matter what base year is used. So although the number of people living in poverty (by this measure) declined in the 2000s, we see that even now we still have a higher proportion of people living in poverty than was the case prior to 1984. I'm going to put my neck out here and suggest that 2009 low point will transpire to be an inflection point and if National continues its economic mismanagement then in a couple of years we will start to see those poverty rates rising again. Why do I think this? Because one clear indicator of poverty is children's hospital admission rates for infectious diseases, and these are rising again.
Perhaps this is why Mrs Thatcher is under-rated for lifting people out of poverty. Because she didn't. What people got was deeper and more persistent poverty for those at the bottom, and a sense of smug entitlement among those at the top.