Sir Jerry Mateparae. Photo by Getty
The Governor-General has challenged New Zealand to
consider how it can better look after its children in the
In his New Year message, Governor-General Lieutenant General
Sir Jerry Mateparae said the way the nation cared for its
children was the "barometer" of societal wellbeing.
"As a nation, and as communities, we need to both celebrate
our successes, and examine how we can help those families
facing particular difficulties, so every child can grow up in
a safe and secure home," he said.
As the United Nations marked the 20th anniversary of the
International Year of the Family, 2014 was an opportunity to
"take stock" following a year where the spotlight was on
The release of Children's Commissioner Russell Wills' report
into child poverty in December found a quarter of Kiwi
children were under the standard 60 per cent income poverty
line, of which, 10 per cent were in severe and persistent
The report also highlighted the links between the lack of
affordable housing and the preventable diseases spread
Sir Jerry said while the structure and dynamics of New
Zealand families had changed, the desire of parents to raise
their children in a caring, loving environment had not.
"I often hear people say that everyone should have a New
"The care we provide to our most vulnerable citizens - our
children - is a barometer of the wellbeing of our families
and our society."
But not all families could cope with the "inevitable
challenges" life threw at them, Sir Jerry said.
He urged Kiwis to remember how families had overcome
challenges in the past, using the examples of World Wars I
"In these and other conflicts, millions of lives were lost,
and families were tragically torn apart. The New Zealanders
who answered the call of service in that war, and many
conflicts since, did so to protect our country in the hope
that their families and their children could live in peace.
"As we recall their sacrifices, we should never forget the
untold suffering these conflicts caused for families and
"As we make our resolutions for the New Year, and look to the
year's anniversaries, we should let the lessons learnt so
painfully a century ago inform our appreciation of our
families and the freedom we have to raise them in peace."