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Child Well Being Research Symposium a resounding success

21 April 2021

The 2021 symposium brought together world-renown researchers across fields of education, children's language development, psychology, Pasifika, nutrition, quality sleep, pre-term baby support, public health, and speech-language therapy, and highlighted the exciting interdisciplinary developments in facilitating young children’s success and well-being. Hon Judge Andrew Becroft, Children’s Commissioner, inspired the audience in his keynote address on Day 1 of the symposium.


2021 symposium keynote speaker, Honourable Judge Becroft, Children’s Commissioner

The Child Well Being Research Symposium was held on 8-9 April 2021 and was a resounding success with 168 delegate’s attending.

The UC Child Well-being Research Institute, Te Kāhui Pā Harakeke, is committed to advancing high quality, multidisciplinary research to enhance the learning success and healthy well-being of children and young people. The focus is holistic, including research related to infants, children, and adolescents within the context of their whānau, family and community. We have a commitment to being a leader in developing a strengths-based discourse around child development, health and well-being that speaks to the context of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

CWRI photo Glenis Philip-Barbara, (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Uepōhatu) Assistant Māori Commissioner for Children at the 2021 symposium

The symposium provided our community with an exceptional opportunity to hear world-leading experts discuss critically important topics to ensure young children’s learning and literacy success.

A highlight of this year’s symposium was keynote speaker, Honorable Judge Becroft, Children’s Commissioner, who challenged, provoked and delighted the audience. He gave context to child wellbeing by providing the number of children (under 18 years old) there are in Aotearoa – 1,123,000 – that is 23% of New Zealand’s population.

He reminded the audience of the words of Dame Whina Copper “Take care of our children. Take care of what they hear, take care of what they see, take care of what they feel. For how the children grow so will be the shape of Aotearoa”.  He went on to applaud UC and CWRI for “having a symposium with such a holistic view from across a wide variety of disciplines – focused on children, with children’s wellbeing at the centre of the research.

He also shared some key findings from the office of the Children’s Commissioner about Child Well Being (The Good Life) when they asked children what they thought and what it meant to them.  The answers provided revealed that:

  • Change is needed
  • Providing the basic is important, but not enough own its own
  • Schools have significant impact
  • Family and whānau are crucial
  • Children and young people have valuable insights

He left the audience with a challenge to “do better” for the tamariki in Aotearoa, as they deserved better and we should all advocate for that whenever and wherever we can.

“ It was a  truly inspiring presentation. Their strong advocacy for improving outcomes for all our tamariki is very powerful - it was such a privilege to listen to them both and to meet our new recently appointed assistant childrens  Commissioner for Māori". Professor Gail Gilon, Director of the Child Well-being Research Institute.

The Symposium Programme for 2021 was filled with experts from within the University of Canterbury and our colleagues from other’s New Zealand Universities who showcased their research and often life’s work focused on child-well-being. 

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