Research, findings and impact

Growing Up in New Zealand is designed to provide unique information about what shapes children’s early development in contemporary New Zealand and how interventions might be targeted at the earliest opportunity to give every child the best start in life.

Study reports and policy briefs

Cover of 'Now we are two' report

Study reports


Report 8. Growing Up in New Zealand: Transition to school (June 2018).
  | Transition to school report highlights


Report 7. Growing Up in New Zealand: Now We Are Four - Describing the preschool years (May 2017).


Report 6. Growing Up in New Zealand: Vulnerability Report 2: Transitions in exposure to vulnerability in the first 1000 days of life (July 2015)
PDF | ebook

Report 5. Growing Up in New Zealand: Residential Mobility Report 1: Moving house in the first 1000 days (December 2014)
PDF | ebook

Report 4. Growing Up in New Zealand: Vulnerability Report 1: Exploring the Definition of Vulnerability for Children in their First 1000 Days (July 2014)
PDF | ebook

Report 3. Growing Up in New Zealand: Now We Are Two (June 2014)
PDF | ebook

Report 2. Growing Up in New Zealand: Now we are born (March 2012)
PDF | ebook

Report 1. Growing Up in New Zealand: Before we are born (November 2010)
PDF | ebook

Cover of 'Immunisation' policy brief

Policy briefs

Policy Brief 6: Who is saying what about immunisation: evidence from Growing Up in New Zealand

Policy Brief 5: The intergenerational use of te reo Māori: evidence from Growing Up in New Zealand

Policy Brief 4: Employment and parental leave around the time of birth: evidence from Growing Up in New Zealand

Policy Brief 3: Measuring the Economic Environment - What resources are available to children in their first 1000 days?

Policy Brief 2: Keeping our children injury-free - household safety evidence from Growing Up in New Zealand

Policy Brief 1: Nutrition and physical activity during pregnancy - evidence from Growing Up in New Zealand


Latest research publications

  • Peterson ER, Dando E, D'Souza S, Waldie KE, Carr AE, Mohal J, Morton SMB (2018). Can Infant Temperament Be Used to Predict Which Toddlers Are Likely to Have Increased Emotional and Behavioral Problems? Early Education and development 29(4). Published online may 2018. DOI: 10.1080/10409289.2018.1457391
  • Gerritsen, S., Anderson, S., Morton, S., & Wall, C. (2018). Pre-school nutrition-related behaviours at home and early childhood education services: Findings from the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study. Public Health Nutrition, 21(7) 1222-1231. doi:10.1017/S1368980017004116
  • Farewell CV, Thayer ZM, Puma JE, Morton S (2018). Exploring the timing and duration of maternal stress exposure: Impacts on early childhood BMI. Early Human Development 117, 15-18 doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2017.12.001
  • Corkin MT, Peterson ER, Andrejic N, Waldie KE, Reese E, Morton SMB (2017). Predictors of Mothers’ Self-Identified Challenges in Parenting Infants: Insights from a Large, Nationally Diverse Cohort. Journal of Child and Family Studies. 27: 653-670. DOI 10.1007/s10826-017-0903-5
  • Peterson ER, Andrejic N, Corkin MT, Waldie KE, Reese E, Morton SMB. (2017): I hardly see my baby: challenges and highlights of being a New Zealand working mother of an infant. Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online DOI:10.1080/1177083X.2017.1391852
  • Castro T, Grant C, Wall C, Welch M, Marks R, Fleming C, Teixeira J, Bandara D, Berry S, Morton S (2017). Breastfeeding indicators among a nationally representative multi-ethnic sample of New Zealand children. NZ Medical Journal 130 (1466) 01 December
  • Berry SD, Walker CG, Ly K, Snell RG, Atatoa Carr PE, Bandara D, Mohal J, Castro T, Marks E, Morton SMB, Grant CC. (2017) Widespread prevalence of a CREBRF variant amongst Māori and Pacific children is associated with weight and height in early childhood. International Journal of Obesity online doi: 10.1038/ijo.2017.230

See the full list of research publications



Information we provide

A key aim of the study is to provide evidence to inform policy development, for example whether existing government policies are reaching the families they were designed for and, if so, what effect they are having. This can inform the development of new strategies better targeted to address entrenched problems.

Early information from Growing Up in New Zealand, collected in the first two years of the children’s lives, provides insight into areas like:

  • vulnerable children

  • diverse family structures and resources

  • general health and wellbeing, including immunisation, breastfeeding, nutrition, physical activity and poor early health

  • interaction with health and other key services

  • family housing and mobility

  • detailed measures of the home environment including language, literacy and school readiness

  • paid parental leave and maternal return to the workforce

  • child care

  • engagement with early childhood education.

We publish our findings regularly in the form of reports, scientific articles, working papers and policy bulletins.

Download our study reports

10 things we now know

Covers of various Growing Up in New Zealand publications
  • Nearly half our children identify with more than one ethnic group and one third have at least one parent who did not grow up in New Zealand.
  • Today’s children are “digital natives” spending an average of two hours “on-screen” every day. However it appears that the rules put in place around content and timing are more important than the number of hours engaged.
  • Persistent poverty is a reality for one in ten children in their first two years of life and four in ten families experience material hardship at least once during that time. This means sacrifices like cutting back on heating and food to pay for essential things like rent.
  • Around 40% of the births were unplanned so parents did not have the opportunity to make important health and lifestyle changes before pregnancy.
  • Two out of three children moved house at least once during their preschool years, with some moving as often as 12 times. Nearly half live in rental accommodation.
  • At age four, 97 percent of children spend time away from their parent in, e.g., Early Childhood Education or organised home-based care.
  • One in ten children has been bullied or picked on regularly since the age of two.
  • 92 percent of children were fully immunised by age two and 85 percent by age four. A small but significant number of children had not had or arranged their free “before-school check” by the time they were four and a half years old.
  • One in seven four-year-old children are classified as overweight or obese. These children are likely to engage in more screen-time and consume more soft drinks than children of normal weight.
  • One in five children are living in extended family situations when they start school and more are living in single parent households than when they were two years old.

Find more key findings from our reports