Keynote Speakers

paula b

PAULA BENNETT – unable to attend. (Alfred Ngaro, National List MP, sent in replacement)

As the Minister for Social Development and Youth Affairs, Paula Bennett is responsible for the largest Government portfolio and a budget of more than $22 billion, which equates to a third of the Government’s total annual spend. Almost all New Zealanders are touched by the Ministry of Social Development at some point in their lives through welfare, pensions and social services. This Department co-ordinates thousands of contracts with the social service sector delivering support to at-risk and high-needs families, foster families, children in care, sexual violence services, youth justice, housing assistance, welfare payments and job skills programmes. As Associate Minister of Housing, Minister Bennett has a delegation for social housing which fits neatly with the Social Development portfolio. As the ninth highest ranked Minister, Paula Bennett has a strong voice at the Cabinet table and advocates for children, families and individuals who are in need. In addition to her Ministerial duties, Paula Bennett is also the local Member of Parliament for Waitakere, representing 60,000 people from the western suburbs of New Zealand’s largest city of Auckland.

ABSTRACT: The White Paper for Vulnerable Children, and the Children’s Action Plan  

In 2012 there were 22,000 substantiated findings of child abuse and neglect found by Child, Youth and Family. Notifications have trebled over the last seven years, and substantiated abuse findings have increased 73 per cent over the same period. The White Paper for Vulnerable Children, released in October last year, unapologetically targets resources, interventions and support to children who are currently being abused or seriously neglected and those who are most at risk. It contains more than 30 new initiatives and marks a significant advancement in child protection in New Zealand. 

The Children’s Action Plan is now underway, and provides the framework for the White Paper. The Government is working hard with schools, community organisations, health and justice professionals, and many others, at putting the first steps in place. These are our most vulnerable children, and we simply cannot continue to work the same way and expect a different result. They deserve better than that.


Jon Boston pict


Jonathan is Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies in the School of Government at Victoria University of Wellington. He has published widely on a range of matters including public management, social policy, climate change policy, tertiary education policy, comparative government and New Zealand politics. He was a member of the New Zealand Political Change Project from 1995-2002, which explored the behavioural, institutional and policy implications of MMP. During 2000-01, he served as a member of the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission, and later helped to design, implement and evaluate the Performance-Based Research Fund in the tertiary education sector. More recently he has served as Director of the Institute of Policy Studies (2008-11) and as Co-Chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty, established by the Children’s Commissioner in early 2012. He has authored or edited 27 books and several hundred articles and book chapters.

ABSTRACT: Child Poverty in New Zealand: Why it matters and how it can be reduced

Almost three decades ago, New Zealand had relatively low rates of child poverty. A combination of policy changes and societal trends led to a dramatic increase in child poverty during the late 1980s and early 1990s. These much higher rates have been largely tolerated for two decades. For a country which once prided itself on being comparatively egalitarian and, more particularly, a great place to bring up children, this is surprising. It is also concerning. Child poverty imposes many costs. This is especially the case, according to the available evidence, when poverty occurs during early childhood and when it is severe and/or persistent. These costs afflict not only the children directly exposed to poverty (e.g. in the form of lower educational achievement, reduced lifetime earnings and poorer health outcomes), but also the whole society. 

This paper has four main purposes. First, it summarizes briefly the available evidence concerning the nature, magnitude, causes and consequences of child poverty in New Zealand. Second, it reflects on the reasons why substantial rates of child poverty have been tolerated for an extended period. Third, drawing on the lessons of anti-poverty strategies in other OECD countries, it critically assesses the policy options available for securing substantial and durable reductions in child poverty rates in New Zealand. Finally, it considers the prospects of such policies being implemented and outlines possible strategies for enhancing the focus of the political system on child-related social issues.




Anthea (ONZM JP) is the founder and Chief Executive of Child Matters, with a background in education, child protection social work, counselling and therapy, and qualifications in both education and management. She supervised and developed curriculum for education programmes and has overseen the growth of Child Matters as it has become a leader in child protection education and a major voice for children. In recognition of her contribution to children and their welfare, she has been named as a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow and has been made an Officer of the Order of Merit of New Zealand.
Anthea is the author of Safe not Sorry, and Hidden in Front of Us. She is involved with advocacy at local and national levels, and is currently a member of the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee. She is a member of NZASW, The Institute of Directors and the Paediatric Society of NZ.She is mother to three adult children and grandmother to four.

ABSTRACT: It takes a Community to Nurture and Protect a child – What we know works

Former Judge Mick Brown wisely noted that “A society gets the level of violence it’s prepared to tolerate”. The physical, sexual and mental violence that we inflict on our most vulnerable is indicative of the high level of tolerance we have for the maltreatment of children. Individuals may want to dispute that they would ever allow violence to children, but the fact is, far too many are simply not aware of the significance of what is in front of them. Looking the other way is not an option.

Creating an environment where children can flourish will not be achieved by any group, sector or government agency alone. It takes a whole community to nurture and protect a child. To undertake this protective and nurturing role, a number of steps need to be taken, beginning with understanding the issue of child maltreatment, its manifestations and its ramifications. Next, every adult must recognize how we are all impacted by child abuse, and the responsibility each of us has in our duty to care for children. Every grown person should then identify what they can do personally in any professional or voluntary role. Finally and most importantly, the protection of our most defenseless depends not on the nameless bureaucrat or government agency but on the commitment of every adult not to look the other way, but to stand up step up and speak out for children.

This paper explores these how these steps interrelate and discusses the significant research that make the process so compelling. Secondly, it discusses those specific programmes for achieving these steps that are evidencing success.


Jacinda Ardern_1


Jacinda is ranked No. 4 in Labour’s shadow Cabinet. She is the Spokesperson for Social Development and Children. Her passion for social justice led her to the party at just 17. She was elected in 2008. Jacinda ran in the 2011 election as Labour’s candidate for Auckland Central, halving the incumbent’s majority down to approximately 700 votes. Before entering Parliament Jacinda worked for 2 and a half years for the Better Regulation Executive in UK Cabinet Office. Her role as an Associate Director was to improve the way that local authorities in particular interfaced with business. She also worked as an advisor in the Office of Prime Minister Helen Clark and was only the second woman to be elected President of the largest international political youth organisation globally – IUSY, a role which saw her spending time in places ranging from Jordan, Israel and Algeria through to China. Jacinda is a proud resident of Freemans Bay. She believes in an Auckland and a New Zealand that owns its future, and its assets, that is smart and grows the economy by investing in Research and Development and clean technology, has a world class public transport system that we can be proud of, invests in children, and is genuinely a world leader on environmental issues.

ABSTRACT: Building policies for kids, not electoral cycles.

In the wake of the white paper, how do we ensure that we have policies that address the needs of vulnerable children that go beyond electoral cycles? Is it genuinely possible to take a multi-party approach to these issues? Jacinda Ardern will talk about where the Labour party’s view on current changes in the sector, her parties children’s policy, and why there is hope for a sustainable approach in addressing the needs of our next generation and beyond.




Susan’s areas of interest include taxation of saving, pensions, long-term care insurance, levies and experience rating in accident compensation, family law and economics, economics of the welfare state, and income support. She has developed various local, national, and international forums for policy debates in welfare, accident compensation, and retirement incomes.

Susan is a part-time co-director of the University of Auckland Retirement Policy and Research Centre. Current projects include an analysis of suitable decumulation products for New Zealand, the family tax credit system, overseas pensions and their treatment in New Zealand, child poverty in New Zealand and family income assistance, income and asset testing for long-term care, the welfare state and targeting, the role of home equity release and, international pension systems, the economic implications of New Zealand’s Accident Compensation, and tax reforms.

ABSTRACT: Putting Children at the centre of policy

What do we mean when we say we want to put children at the centre of policy?  What are the moral justifications for this approach?  Has it become harder for us to understand this concept, when in practice paid work has been at the centre?  In part confusion arises because the unpaid work of caring for children  is invisible until it is marketised.  Exploring New Zealand family policies such as paid parental leave, early childhood education, child tax credits suggests t

hat there is much room for improvement  if the needs of children are to come first.




Judith is the NZEI President, as well as head teacher at Hawera kindergarten and has a long association with the NZEI. With nearly 20 years of representation under her belt, Judith has sat on the institute’s early childhood national caucus and the kindergarten negotiating team among other roles.
She has also taken part in working groups with the NZEI and Ministry of Education including kindergarten job evaluations.

ABSTRACT: How many more ambulances at the bottom of the cliff?

There is now a clear consensus that health, education and social outcomes for children in New Zealand are worse than they should be and that we need to invest more in our children.  The problem is not new.  The lack of planning and lack of action over the last three decades has only exacerbated the problem. There is considerable evidence to show that poverty is a major factor contributing to student underachievement.  Poverty is not just about children, it is also about parents, whānau, and our communities.

The Government’s Green Paper sought to test some ideas about addressing the current situation with regard to vulnerable children but it did not address contributing factors such as economic policies and values.  Unsurprisingly, the subsequent White Paper proposals have yet again missed an excellent opportunity to tackle child poverty. 

This presentation questions whether we are doing ‘our best’ for vulnerable children and what would ‘our best’ look like. 




Angela is the President of The New Zealand Post PrimaryTeachers Association Te Wehengarua (PPTA). She lives in central Taranaki with her partner (also a teacher) and two children and teaches at Stratford High School (teacher of drama and economics, BOT representative, Arts Curriculum Leader). She passionately believes in quality public education, the profession, and the association’s ability to effect positive change.
Angela has represented Taranaki on executive over the last decade.

ABSTRACT: Equipping schools to mitigate the impact of poverty on learners

The significant correlation between socio-economic status of students and their achievement in education is persistent and presents a major challenge for policy makers. In New Zealand we recognise this to some extent already, with the decile funding system and the targeting of services based on this. There is no evidence that schools alone can overcome the achievement gap that exists between high and low SES students, but there are policies that can enable the education system to ‘push back’ harder against this. New Zealand’s curriculum and qualification system already provide some elements of a system that enables schools to mitigate the impact of SES, but there are other policy settings, including the competitive model instituted under Tomorrow’s Schools that may be having an impact in the other direction.

Within a framework of progressive universalism, some other policies that should be pursued would include specific professional learning and developme

nt for teachers to support their efforts to provide quality teaching for diverse students, facilitating partnerships that enable schools to become community hubs, and resourcing schools to extend their services and provide all students with some of the advantages that middle class families currently provide.



Dr. Cornwall is the Deputy Children’s Commissioner at The Office of The Children’s Commissioner. She joined the Office in March from the State Services Commission where she was a manager in the Sector and Agency Performance Group.  Dr Cornwall brings to the Office a range of experience related to children, young people and families.

Prior to her role at SSC, Dr Cornwall was a policy manager at the Ministry of Justice leading work on Family Violence including undertaking a review of the Domestic Violence Act, work to review the Victims’ Rights Act and the development of services for Victims of Crime, supporting the work of the Taskforce on Sexual Violence to address the needs of sexual violence victims, and a project looking at how to better support child witnesses in the courts.  She also led the first phase of the review of the Family Court.

Dr Cornwall has also worked for MSD as both a manager in the Centre for Social Research and Evaluation, focussing on the evaluation of programmes for children and young people,  and then as a team leader in the child family and community policy team which included work on the level of support for carers receiving  the unsupported child’s benefit and orphan’s benefit.

She has a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Victoria University of Wellington.

ABSTRACTGetting it right for all our children

This presentation will outline the issue of child poverty in New Zealand including key statistics, information and the impact poverty has on children ’s short and longer term outcomes. 

Key dimensions of child wellbeing such as   health and education issues, and the importance of living in a healthy home will be discussed. This presentation will outline potential responses and actions to address some of the effects of child poverty that if implemented well would alleviate some ofthe negative impact on children. This discussion will be grounded in what we know works, including the elements of best practice that need to be in place, and the types of factors that should be considered by agencies to ensure children and families receive the support they need.  


 Helen Harte and Kuni Jenkins – MANA RIRIKI

Kuni Jenkins


Professor Kuni Kaa Jenkins, senior academic in the School of Education, at  Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi site in Auckland.  She held the prestigious Marsden Fund award for research 2008-2011 in partnership with Professor Alison Jones of the University of Auckland and herself of Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi.

Kuni is of Ngati Porou descent, who was raised outside of her iwi, in Maori communities of the Hawkes Bay.  She has enjoyed a primary school teaching career prior to becoming an academic, teaching in Maori communities in the Wellington and Auckland region.  Her interests are especially in the history of education and the schooling of Maori girls. Among her list of publications on Maori education, she celebrates the most notable of her recent joint publication 2011 with Professor Alison Jones He Korero: Words Between Us, First Maori – Pakeha Conversations  on Paper, Huia Publishers, Wellington.

Kuni’s work with Mana Ririki came with her appointment as Board Chair  of Te Kahui Mana Ririki since  2012.

Helen Harte


Ngati Kuta, Ngapuhi; Ngai Tane, Whanau a Takimoana, Ngatiporou.Research and Development Manager, Foundation member, Te Kahui Mana Ririki Trust.

Helen has a background in Secondary School teaching and varied economic and cultural hapu development initiatives at her home marae. Collecting oral histories was a personal favourite. Interviews of Kuia who had their babies in the 1930’s was published as Maori Childbirth in the 1930’s-from home to hospital. She interviewed Kuia and kaumatua for the Early History of Te Rawhiti. Both studies were funded by the Sesquicentennial Oral History Group.

Helen supported Dr Hone Kaa and Anton Blank to establish Mana Ririki as an organisation to eliminate Maori child abuse. She developed the Tikanga Whakatipu Ririki Parenting programme using her research in to pre-1769 Maori parenting practices. This is the basis for workshops she facilitates for providers. Helen helps co-ordinate research projects and carries out research for the Trust.

 ABSTRACT: Child Policies and Practices: When NGOs tell their governments about grass roots issues do policies and practices to save the child change?

We discuss the work of Mana Ririki with its research about Maori children, its communication of this to whanau and its political nature. Here, Mana Ririki’s grass roots activities among interested groups, have been to intervene and influence child policies and practices in the situations where particular Maori children are found to be unsafe in their own homes.  The key element in the work of Mana Ririki is the advocacy role it follows through a central process of whanaungatanga in order to promote and share with everyone and particularly the whanau who need it, a values laden model of what constitutes a successful Maori family.



Unfortunately, Michael O’Brien will no longer be attending the conference as a keynote. 


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