Five to Thrive campaigners call for Aotearoa to vote for children

A joint initiative from four of New Zealand’s leading children’s organisations to move the needs of tamariki to the top of the election agenda is calling for Kiwis to make their vote count for children on Saturday.

Launched last month by Barnardos, Te Kahui Mana Ririki, Whānau Āwhina Plunket and Save the Children New Zealand, Five to Thrive identifies five issues where urgent change is needed for children – realising the potential of whānau Māori and reducing inequities; investing in children’s early years; an affordable and healthy home for every child; lifting children and their families out of poverty; and mental health support for every child and new parent that needs it. Five to Thrive highlights these fundamental needs that the next government must get right so that all children can thrive.

The campaign – which has been met by overwhelming support by the public – asks politicians to commit to tackling these issues and the voting public to join the call for urgent political action for children. Since launching in September, thousands of Kiwis have registered their support for Five to Thrive through social media and website visits, many taking action to sign the Open Letter to politicians currently open for signing, or by writing to their local MP.

“Our MPs need to ensure the needs of our tamariki are above party politics,” Barnardos Chief Executive Mike Munnelly says.

“As we head towards election day 2020, it’s vital we have cross-party consensus around the issues facing Aotearoa’s tamariki and whānau, to ensure they are at the centre of decision making and the Five to Thrive asks are progressed.”

Save the Children Chief Executive Heidi Coetzee says the public support for the campaign has been encouraging, and now voters need to tick for kids when they head to the polls this week.

“Making your vote count for kids – and the future of Aotearoa – is more important this year than ever before. Many of our most vulnerable whānau and tamariki have been affected by COVID-19. Emergency Housing wait lists are out of control, many people have lost jobs and many more still will, and there is massive fear and uncertainty. Look into the party policies, find out what politicians are promising and make your tick count for our tamariki and rangatahi who cannot yet vote but who are directly impacted by the political decisions made now and into the future.”

Dee Ann Wolferstan, Chief Executive of Te Kahui Mana Ririki, says that the next Government needs to recognise the impacts of intergenerational trauma from colonisation on our whānau Māori – and when this is valued then so will the need to invest in Māori for Māori solutions be realised.

“Our people of old envisioned a world of hope and peace for our mokopuna, this remains as the vision. A place where our mokopuna can safely ride their bikes on the streets and be in communities of safety.

“We are asking for the next government to be purposeful in your investment for tamariki, and in particular focus on changing the narratives for tamariki Māori through solutions by Māori."

Whānau Āwhina Plunket CEO Amanda Malu agrees, adding it was vital political leaders endorse the pathways set out in the 2019 Hauora report and the alternative view of the Health and Disability Review final report to deliver better outcomes for Māori.

“It’s essential we address and eliminate inequities in the health system to ensure better outcomes for all our precious tamariki and whānau. Delivering on these five key asks is an investment in the future of our nation.”

The Five to Thrive website – – gives voters more information about each issue and the reality facing Aotearoa’s tamariki and their whānau.


Spokespeople from all Five to Thrive campaign partner organisations are available for interviews pre and post-election to discuss issues for children.

Please contact:

Amie Richardson
PR Department
027 248 6478

Key facts: Issues facing children

  • The promise of Te Tiriti o Waitangi has not yet been delivered, with statistics across education, health, justice and housing showing inequitabale outcomes for Māori. Almost one in four (23.3%) of Māori tamariki live in material hardship – compared to one in nine Pakeha children.
  • 20% of children in New Zealand live in poverty after housing costs. Around 50% of families living in poverty are working families.
  • Around 30,000 children are hospitalised every year in New Zealand from preventable diseases due to poor housing.
  • The housing wait list for emergency housing continues to grow and is now at a record high of 14,869 as families are unable to afford high market rental prices.
  • The first 1000 days in a child's life are critical, 80% of brain development happens during this time, impacting the rest of their lives.
  • New Zealand children have the worst mental wellbeing rate and second highest rate of youth suicide among high-income countries. The recently published Youth2000 survey confirms worsening emotional and mental wellbeing among New Zealand teens in the last seven years, based on their direct feedback. Maternal suicide is the leading cause of maternal deaths in Aotearoa.