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Leadership on a shared vision to unite all of New Zealand around who we are as New Zealanders, what our values are for our children and what we aspire for our children has risen from Judge Carolyn Henwood in the form of a Covenant/Kawenta for the nation’s children.

The Covenant/Kawenta grew out of Judge Henwood’s concern that New Zealand did not have a visionary document that reflects shared aspirations for our children, beyond the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

The document is intended to focus a national conversation about what we want for our children today and in the future.

Judge Henwood said  “If you’ve got an aspirational statement then you’ve got strands that drop out of that, we’ve got lots of legislation and operational things going on but we don’t have any vision to measure to.”

The covenant/kawenata, is written in Māori and English and commits to protecting children from violence, abuse, neglect and to provide a proper standard of living. It also promises to support their emotional and mental wellbeing, provide education and take children’s views into account.

The document has been signed by 68 Iwi Chair Forum members and received broad cross party support.

The Children’s Commissioner Andrew Beacroft says “I see it as positive, I see it as something that’s visionary. It’s not just words, it’s a way of saying this is what we agree on, this is what we believe we must do better and say it publicly and join together. It’s a very good step.”


A Covenant for Our Nation’s Children

We the people of Aotearoa New Zealand make a solemn and enduring covenant with our nation’s children, whoever they are and wherever they may be, in equal measure, those children who are born and those born in the future.

We as New Zealanders undertake an unconditional duty to do all in our power to ensure that all our children are treasured, respected and enjoy a good life full of opportunity in a nation that is diverse and rich in culture and aroha.

This covenant recognises that to allow our children to thrive and stand strong at home, in their communities and in the world, we need to take responsibility for our role in the lives of all children. To that end, we will be champions for our children and will act with integrity in our dealings with them and treat them fairly in all things to ensure that they receive justice.

We will protect them from all forms of violence, abuse and neglect.

We will strive to provide them with a proper standard of living. We will preserve and respect their sense of identity, in particular by strengthening the bonds with parents, family, whanau, hapu and iwi.

We will support the emotional, social, physical and mental wellbeing of every child. We will provide them with education that acknowledges their individual needs and maximises their potential.

We will hear the voices of children and take their views and their interests into account. We will ensure they are at the centre when making decisions about them.

We will strive to ensure children have the benefit of continuity and stability in their lives. Our vision is that every child of our nation will be valued and have a sense of place, a place to stand and know their place.

We make this pledge to every child.

Childhood should be a time of joy and light. It should be free from fear and neglect and isolation.

We will do all that we can to implement this covenant both in times of plenty and in leaner times, knowing always that this solemn commitment made to our children runs deeper than money and resources, but touches upon who we are as a nation, how we define ourselves and

He Ōati mō ngā Taitamariki ō tō tātou Whenua

He oati piri pono tūturu tēnei māi i ngā tāngata katoa o Aotearoa ki ngā taitamariki puta noa tō tātou whenua me te kī kia taurite tonu ahakoa ō rātou kāwai ahakoa hoki i ahu i hea, ngā taitamariki kua whānau kē mai me rātou ngā uri ō āmuri ake nei.

Kia whai ake tātou ngā tāngata katoa o Aotearoa ki te hāpai, ahakoa te aha, kia pono ai tā tātou poipoi, e tau ai hoki tō rātou ake mana, e whiwhi ai i te oranga me ngā tūmomo angitū mai i tēnei whenua me ōna kanorau o te aroha o te ahurea.

Kia huakina e tēnei kawenata kia tūturu mārika tā tātou kawe i ngā wāhanga e pā ana ki te oranga pūmau ō ā tātou taitamariki i ō rātou ake kāinga, i ō rātou hāpori puta noa ki te ao whānui.

Tāpiri atu ka hautū ake tātou mō ā tātou taitamariki e tōtika ai tā tātou mahi ngātahi me rātou mō ngā tūmomo take, ahakoa nei he aha, kia hua kē ai ko te haepapa.

Kia hīpokina rātou e tō tātou haumaru ki ngā tūmomo raupatu, tūkino me te waiho koretake.

Kia whai tonu tātou kia tōtika tō rātou whiwhi i te taumata o te oranga.

Kia aratakina ō rātou ake tuakiri kia tūturu mārika mā roto mai i ngā tūmomo honohononga ki ngā mātua, whānau ake, ngā hapū tae atu ki ngā iwi whai pānga.

Kia tautoko ake tātou i te oranga ā-tinana, ā-wairua, ā-hinengaro o ia uri taitamariki.

Kia tohua ngā tūmomo huarahi o te mātauranga e hāngai atu ana ki ō rātou ake hiahia ā, e hua ake ai o rātou ake pūmanawa nohopuku.

Kia rongo ake tātou ki ngā reo ō ā tātou taitamariki me ō rātou aronga kia puta ake ki waenga i ngā tūmomo whiriwhiri.

Kia whai tātou kia puta mārika rātou ki waenga i ngā whakataunga e pā ana ki a rātou.

Kia whai tātou kia whiwhi ngā taitamariki ki ngā hua o te taurite me te tū motuhake i roto i ō rātou oranga.

Ko tō tātou whainga matua kia noho mārika ngā uri taitamariki o tō tātou whenua me te tohu whai mana, whai hononga, me tō rātou mārama ki aua pānga katoa.

Koinei tā tātou kupu taurangi mo ia uri taitamariki.

Ko te wā o te tamarikitanga he wā mō te hari mō te koa. Kia kaua kē e pokea e te mataku e te tūkino me te taratahi.

Ka tino whai, pau te kaha, tātou, kia tutuki te ōati nei ahakoa ngā wā whai hua ngā wā o te kore me te mātau ake ko te taunaki papa ngākau nei ki a tātou taitamariki he whānui kē atu i te pūtea i te rawa kia hono kē atu ki tō tātou piringa ā-motu ā-whenua me tō tātou whakatau i a tātou me a tātou ake hononga, tētahi ki tētahi, ki ō tātou whenua me ngā tāngata o aua whenua.