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Aotearoa’s Largest-ever Health And Wellbeing Survey Keen On Insights From Pasifika Youth

One of the most comprehensive surveys ever-conducted with intermediate-aged Pasifika children in this country aims to gather insights to paint a vivid picture of their lives, in particular the impact of Covid-19.

This country’s largest longitudinal study of child development, Growing Up in New Zealand, is currently carrying out its 12 year Kōrero/Interviews with more than 6,000 12-year-olds and their whānau, of which around 1,000 are Pasifika.

Never before have so many pre-teens in Aotearoa been canvassed about their lives, their interests and their experiences, including their response to Covid-19 lockdowns.

Growing Up in New Zealand Pasifika theme lead, Dr Seini Taufa, says it’s vital the study captures the life experiences of Pasifika children and their ‘aiga/kāinga. She says the study has a team of Pasifika interviewers ready to connect with children and their families.

“We’re thrilled to have a team of Pasifika interviewers on board who are able to connect with our families in a way that they will recognise and in their own languages if need be. The study really acknowledges that Aotearoa New Zealand is increasingly multi-cultural, and if we are to plan for the future, the voices of young Pasifika people need to be amplified so that decision-makers can tailor policies and services to best meet the needs of our youth to allow them all to flourish,” she says.

Dr Taufa says one of the core strengths of the study is the sheer size of the ethnically and socioeconomically diverse cohort and its ability to reflect the lived experience of so many children.

She says for this reason it’s vital that as many Pasifika ‘aiga/kāinga as possible to take part in the 12 year Kōrero/Interviews. Dr Taufa says Growing Up in New Zealand is keen to hear from Pasifika families who may be part of the study.

“Many families may remember being part of Growing Up in New Zealand. We know that over time, and especially during a pandemic, that it is easy to lose touch. We want our Pasifika families to know how valuable their contributions are.

“Many families may have moved house or changed phone number and it’s possible we may not have up-to-date contact details for some families so I’d urge whānau to call or email us so that we can get in touch and ensure that their voices contribute to this valuable taonga,” she says.

Nearly a fifth of Growing Up in New Zealand’s cohort identifies as Pasifika, with Samoan and Tongan the two largest groups. Some key findings from the study so far include:

  • Pasifika children are among the most multilingual children in the study. More than a quarter were able to speak more than one language at the age of eight.
  • A third of Tongan children could hold a conversation in Tongan, while a quarter of Samoan children could hold a conversation in Samoan.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Pasifika mothers spoke regularly to their children about their culture.
  • Around a third of Pasifika children live in homes with extended family.
  • Pasifika children are more likely to help other children who are teased or bullied.
  • Pasifika children experienced lower anxiety scores than others in 2020’s Covid-19 lockdown.

Dr Taufa says the study really wants to expand on its research findings for Pasifika children, but can only do so if it gathers the voices and experiences of as many Pasifika children and their families as possible.

She says the Pasifika community has been through a lot this year with Covid-19, but in some ways this makes it even more important to hear from our Pasifika children.

“We know that Covid-19 has hit our Pasifika communities hard. Our 12 Year Kōrero will capture information about this experience as well and it’s really important that we hear what this was like for our Pasifika youth,” she says.

Unfortunately, the 12 year Kōrero/Interviews will be conducted online only due to Covid-19 restrictions, but video calls will be used and children can still meet with their Pasifika interviewers online.

The 12 year Kōrero/Interviews will run for around nine-months and the information gathered will be released in a report called “Now We Are 12” in 2023.

Growing Up in New Zealand participants are encouraged to get in touch to update their contact details so that the study can organise a video call or home visit. To do this, participants should:

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