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Celebrating World Children’s Day By Gathering The Voices Of Mokopuna

Tamariki and rangatahi have shared what well-being means to them and how to make a difference for New Zealand’s next generation in an inaugural nationwide competition to celebrate World Children’s Day on Monday November 20.

The Mokopuna Ora competition was organised by the University of Canterbury’s Child Well-Being Research Institute (CWRI) and open to those aged 5 to 18. The CWRI’s vision is to lead real-world research that transforms the waiora (well-being) of mokopuna in New Zealand, Aotearoa.

Sacha McMeeking, Co-Director of CWRI says “The purpose of this competition is to mark World Children’s Day, an important day in the Institute’s calendar as it commemorates when, in 1989, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. One of the key principles in this groundbreaking document is respecting children’s views and the first step to respecting is knowing what they are.”

Through this competition, mokopuna shared what is most important about their well-being with common themes emerging around healthy food, safe and loving whānau, friendship, connection to community, looking after the planet and a strong call to action to improve and prioritise mental health services.

More than 300 entries were received from around the country, taking the form of poems, songs, drawings, essays, and more. Through these competition entries, tamariki and rangatahi voiced what they see as the keys to well-being for themselves and others.

The competition was launched on International Literacy Day (8 Sept). Literacy is a core part of the CWRI’s work, having developed a structured literacy approach called the Better Start Literacy Approach (BSLA), that is now used in more than 800 schools around Aotearoa, New Zealand and developing the literacy skills of more than 35,000 students.

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Co-founder of the BSLA Professor Gail Gillon says:

“Our literacy competition aims to connect CWRI to tamariki and rangatahi and provide an opportunity for them to share their views on well-being. As literacy is a determinant of well-being, seeking the voices of young people is crucial to understanding how to make a difference to their well-being. We were thrilled at the response to the competition and the thoughtful and insightful ideas expressed in the more than 300 entries we received.”

Mokopuna Ora winners were:

5-7 years

Entrants were asked to consider themselves as a superhero with special powers to make everyone happy and healthy and how their superhero would bring well-being to the world.


1st: Poppy K from West Spreydon School, Christchurch

2nd: James W, from Kaikorai Primary School, Otago

3rd: Audrey H, from Mirimar North Primary School, Wellington

8-10 years

Tamariki in this age group were asked to imagine a magic backpack that fits everything required for feeling happy and healthy every day and name the special items in the backpack.


1st: Annabelle H from Selwyn House School, Christchurch

2nd: Zavien G from Te Kura Whakatipu o Kawarau, Otago

3rd: Anya J from Cornwall Park School, Auckland

11-14 years

These young people were asked to identify one well-being-related wish for their school or community and how this could make a positive impact.


1st: Laila W from Avonhead School, Christchurch

2nd: Karina G from Rototuna Primary School, Waikato

3rd equal: Mason M from Halswell School, Christchurch
3rd equal: Catherine S from Avonhead School, Christchurch

15-18 years

Rangatahi were asked to imagine they were giving a Ted talk on well-being and share insights on how to lead a fulfilling and healthy life.


1st: Mannat K from Rototuna Senior High School, Waikato

2nd: Oshadha P from Southland Boys’ High School, Southland

3rd: Lucy Holdaway from Te Kura, Canterbury

Winners in each category will receive an age-appropriate prize bundle valued at $500 each. To celebrate the University of Canterbury’s 150th anniversary 150 stand out entrants will receive a $50 book voucher.

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