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Young carers take to the skies

17 May 2018

A group of deserving young carers of loved ones who are elderly, ill or disabled will have the chance of a lifetime this weekend, taking part in a memorable scenic flight over Auckland.

Pilots Phil Pacey and Pete Armstrong, along with 16 young carers, will lift off from Ardmore Airport to fly over some of Auckland’s greatest landmarks, including One Tree Hill, Sky City, and Waiheke and Rangitoto islands.

It’s part of a worldwide event, organised by the Rotary e-Club of Aviation and supported by not for profit Carers NZ, to get up to 100 young carers up in the air on the same day.

Phil has been a part of Rotary since 1983, and says he hopes it will raise more awareness of the unique position these young people are in. When asked why he volunteered his services, Phil says the reason is simple.

“I like to see the smiles on young people’s faces, to give these deserving kids a break.”

It is not known how many New Zealand children and young people have caring responsibilities. Carers NZ CEO Laurie Hilsgen says the new Census data will help to identify young carers aged 15 to 24, but under 15s are not counted.

“They are invisible but likely to number in the tens of thousands, based on population trends in other countries. We have known of young carers as young as five years old who provide daily support to someone in their family.”

Young carers need age appropriate information, and tailored help to assist them in education, participation in ordinary childhood activities, transition to secondary and tertiary studies, and employment when older, she says.

Hilsgen says many children and young people don’t realise they are a ‘carer’ – it’s just what they have become used to during their formative years.

“An average day for a young carer can feature anything from running the household and looking after other children, to assisting with personal care, administering medicine, and preparing meals.”

Young Carers NZ is a national programme for Carers NZ. It provides information and a social media space for young New Zealanders who assist members of their families, whanau and aiga.

Carers NZ is New Zealand’s peak body supporting family carers of all ages. It acts as the ongoing Secretariat for the NZ Carers Alliance of more than 45 national not-for-profits, including SAMS and Parent to Parent. It supports a network of more than 50,000 carers and community organisations working directly with carers. Information about Carers NZ can be found at


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