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Whangarei first city to register for Child Friendly Cities Initiative

UNICEF NZ and the Northland Intersectoral Forum (NIF) are pleased to announce that Whangarei is New Zealand’s first city to be registered with the Child Friendly Cities Initiative.

UNICEF NZ National Advocacy manager, Deborah Morris-Travers says the Child-Friendly Cities Initiative is a framework that guides councils and communities to put children first in their decision-making, by bringing to life children’s rights at a local level.

“This framework is a rigorous mechanism to make a city more accessible, safe and useable for its younger citizens who often don’t have a say. A child-friendly city is one where children and young people are valued as citizens and have their interests respected, their voices heard and views considered.”

Child and Youth Friendly Whangarei co-ordinator Hannah Mitchell, says: “We know that a child-friendly city is a city that works for everyone. We are proud and excited that Whangarei is the first city in New Zealand to commit to developing a city that better meets the needs of children and youth.”

Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai agrees that UNICEF accreditation will benefit the children of the district, and therefore all residents. “This is yet another first for Whangarei. Working towards this accreditation aligns with the council’s efforts in recent years of creating a place where our children feel safer, more valued and supported to grow. It brings with it a focus and impetus to continue our efforts in this direction.

“The key to our success will be partnership with organisations such as UNICEF, and also with local child and youth agencies, family members, children and youth themselves.

There is no better insurance policy for a strong, healthy, well-functioning future society than collectively putting our resources into our children and young people today,” Mayor Mai adds.

Ms Mitchell, who has been based at Manaia PHO, further explains, “Whangarei will be undertaking this work collectively through the Northland Intersectoral Forum. NIF has 19 members and includes all the heads of local and regional government agencies, Northland District Health Board, the PHO, Sport Northland and Northland Inc. Members of the Forum have signed a Statement of Intent declaring their commitment to making Whangarei, and the rest of Northland, child and youth-friendly.”

NIF co-chair Walter Wells adds, “The NIF members agree tamariki and taitamariki deserve an environment where they can grow up healthy, protected and respected. The NIF Action Plan and Statement of Intent for a Child and Youth Friendly Whangarei builds on the important work of the NIF to support the wellbeing of all of our citizens.”

Mr Wells, also regional director for Te Puni Kōkiri, adds: “The opportunity to be foundational members towards becoming a Child and Youth Friendly City is welcomed, and the plan provides practical guidance to creating wellbeing here in Whangārei.”

Ms Mitchell adds, “Learning to see our city through a “child-friendly lens” is key to this work, which covers things such as child and youth participation, parks and recreation, road safety and housing. Initially, we’re gathering data to assess how well we’re currently doing, and then we’ll strengthen our current plans so that we can work methodically towards becoming a fully-accredited UNICEF NZ Child Friendly City.

“In Whangarei we call it a “Child and Youth Friendly City” to ensure that young people know they are included.”

  1. There are four stages involved in becoming a Child Friendly City:
  2. Registering the city’s commitment to becoming a child-friendly city
  3. Planning and implementing child friendly policy and practices across the city
  4. Becoming a UNICEF accredited child friendly city
  5. Continuing the good work and regularly assessing progress.

Ms Morris-Travers concluded: “UNICEF NZ congratulates the Northland Intersectoral Forum for its work to ensure that children and youth in the region do well. With councils around the country preparing their long-term plans at the moment, this is a timely reminder of what can be achieved when there’s a focus on children and the political will to make them a priority.

“The Child Friendly Cities Framework is grounded in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and provides a coherent basis on which to shape local initiatives that make a practical difference for children. Well done Whangarei!”
 



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