Message from the Director

It is truly a privilege for me to be able to lead a team of dedicated colleagues based at the University of Auckland who are passionate about the value and utility of the longitudinal information being collected in the Growing Up in New Zealand study. Most importantly I am exceptionally grateful for the engagement and the generosity of our families who continue to share their unique stories about their children's development with us.

Growing Up in New Zealand director, Dr Susan Morton with four children who participate in the study

The Growing Up in New Zealand study has been designed to collect information about what it is like for children to grow up in New Zealand in the 21st century.

The information we gather comes from face-to-face and telephone interviews with mothers and partners of the Growing Up in New Zealand children, and starts before the children were born. In addition, we include information from routine data sources collected by government and health care providers, and most recently from interactions with the children themselves.

The study is of relevance not only for researchers and communities, but also for policy-makers. We are especially proud that this study can provide a depth of evidence with respect to the developmental pathways of Māori, Pacific and Asian children, as well as for New Zealand European children.

Importantly, this study is uniquely positioned to evaluate current cross-sectoral policies, and their utility, effectiveness and impact on children's wellbeing in the short-term and over time.

It is also providing evidence about the realities faced by New Zealand families today. This will allow new policy to be developed that is appropriately targeted to harness success, to address family and child characteristics that underpin vulnerability, and to find new solutions.

New Zealand should be a good place to raise children. Many of our Growing Up in New Zealand families told us at their first interview that they moved to New Zealand to give their children a better future than they may have had living elsewhere.

We know that many of our children are already achieving great things; they are growing up healthy and happy and will contribute to a New Zealand that we all want to be part of.

Many of the children will thrive and achieve in the face of difficulties and disadvantage. We rarely hear about these successes; in the Growing Up in New Zealand study we celebrate them. The information we collect will allow us to understand what shapes and enables resilience and positive outcomes for our children, in all areas of their lives, from the very beginning.

This ability to provide evidence about "what works" is an important feature of Growing Up in New Zealand. Over time, this ability will allow us to create healthy futures for all our families, improve our international ranking on child outcomes, and reduce the unacceptable inequities that are all too common within our population.

The information we are able to provide in our comprehensive reports from the antenatal, infancy and pre-school periods represent the collective voices and stories of our families over the first years of their children's lives for the new generation of New Zealand children. I feel privileged and proud to be able to bring those collective voices from the family table to the policy table.

Associate Professor Susan Morton
Study Director