In August 2019 Belinda Tuari-Toma was invited to sit on the Education Panel at the Child Rights Symposium that was convened by Professor Roseanna Bourke from Massey University. She spoke about addressing the impacts on indigenous communities with specific focus on tamariki Māori and their whānau.  The symposium was hosted by Victoria University of Wellington Associate Professor Nessa Lynch (Youth Justice Expert) and Steering Committee which included the Office of Children’s Commissioner, Barnardo’s, and many more.

“I did speak briefly to Issues raised in the UNICEF An Unfair Start. Inequality in Children’s Education in Rich Countries, but focused more on the strengths of indigenous storytelling/Pūrākau such as the cosmological pūrākau Matariki and how this influenced and shaped children’s perspective and learning. It is demonstrated the strength in working together as a whānau, hapū and iwi, and that each member of the whānau served a purpose and worked for a common goal to uplift, nurture, support and grow the wellbeing and values of individual members but ensure sustainability of a whānau. I felt that this story needed to told, particularly as many speakers spoke about it takes a village to raise a child and that made me think about how our Māori pūrakau such as Matariki true meaning behind the story was all about whānau wellbeing and resilience and equip all members of the whānau even our children with tools to support them throughout life.”

A publication including all panel members and key note speakers will be published early 2020.

Coming up in the next couple of months

This year, UNICEF NZ will be challenging a number of influencers and all communities, whānau and groups to join in the short dance piece StompOff! that is to inspire young people all across Aotearoa-NZ to stand-up for their rights – this indigenous rights, mental health, climate change, diversity and identity. We will be Stomping off for the rights of the child! For Every single day, children have their rights denied. World Children’s Day, 20 November, is an opportunity to promote children’s rights and empower their voices.  To promote the stomp, we will challenge celebrities and influencers to share their stomp and shine a light on issues young people care about.  This stompoff challenge video will be released to our networks in late October, so we encourage you to participate. Along with this we have organised a number of activities which include a Rangatahi night festival amplifying indigenous voices which may be held at Te Kura Māori Porirua or another Porirua Kura (to be confirmed). The Wellington City Council is supporting Unicef to light up the Carter Oriental Parade Fountain Blue and we are inviting people to come to our public stompoff performance and challenge on the 21 November at 6.30pm.  The Porirua City Council is also lighting up the War Memorial on Te Rauparaha Park. It’s great to see support all around the region. We are hoping to have our local Mayors and deputy Mayors be present at the different activities.

Why child rights?

Thirty years ago, world leaders made a historic commitment to the world’s children by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, with 54 rights for every child, regardless of ethnicity, gender or religion. 2019 marks 30 years since the signing of this Convention. Our world has changed dramatically in 30 years. Kiwi kids are facing new challenges around mental health, suicide, on-line safety, climate change, identity and rising inequality. On November 20, we’re committed to amplifying the voices of youth around Aotearoa. 

We are committed to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Belinda Tuari-Toma is a Child Rights Advocate – Kaiwhakahau o ngā tamariki – for UNICEF

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