An Amnesty International report highlights an increase in slums, as well as violence against women and a very high maternal death rate in many parts of the Pacific.
The report released last Friday says the region is sitting on a social, political and economic time bomb fuelled by unfolding human rights crises in the past year.
The organisation's chief executive officer in New Zealand, Patrick Holmes, says extreme poverty in the Pacific is a major abuse of human rights.
"What we do feel is that the worsening economic condition has allowed leaders to take their eyes off the human rights agenda. And inevitably, those who are least able to defend themselves find that the economic crisis is biting and the human rights are being abused, so it's really coming to the fore now."
Patrick Holmes says governments and international organisations must exert their influence to end the violations.