Advocating for an Aotearoa New Zealand where every child shines bright

Barnardos believes in an Aotearoa New Zealand where all children thrive because of good care, education and health and where they can access extra support— if and when they need it— in ways that work for them.

We believe in an Aotearoa New Zealand where all children get to actively live and experience their rights, feel confident, capable, resilient and culturally connected, with a strong sense of hope for their future.

We advocate for change on these issues:

Although most children in New Zealand do experience a positive and thriving childhood, unfortunately too many children and tamariki are experiencing a different reality. We advocate on these key issues which we see impacting tamariki and rangatahi in Aotearoa every day.

Child and Youth Mental Health

Mental health support for every child and new parent.

Family Poverty

Lift children, families and whānau out of poverty.

Child Abuse & Neglect

Too many children are experiencing a harsh reality.


An affordable and healthy home for every child.

Children’s Early Years

The first 1000 days of a child’s life are critical. 

Children in Law and Policy

Making Aotearoa New Zealand the best place to be a child.

Championing all children

All children in Aotearoa have the right for their best interests to be at the heart of any laws or policies which affect them. That’s why Barnardos makes submissions on suggested changes to laws and policies affecting children, with a focus on keeping children’s rights and needs at the centre of government decision making. Here are some of our recent submissions:

Our latest submissions

How we work for positive change

One of the three main ways we work alongside children and young people to make a positive change in their lives is by advocating on the biggest challenges facing them.

We advocate at the systems level for the rights and needs of tamariki grounded in what we know from the mahi that Barnardos people do every day, and what tamariki, rangatahi and whānau tell us.

Barnardos stands strongly for the rights and well-being of all children in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Across our early learning and social services and in communities throughout the country, we talk with and listen to children from all walks of life. This means we have strong insights into children’s hopes and aspirations, as well as the challenges they’re facing. It's vital that their ideas and experiences are heard and championed, so we can build an Aotearoa New Zealand where every child can flourish and realise their potential. 

Our advocacy aims to influence policies, practices, systems, laws and organisations so that they protect and promote children and their rights and well-being. Out advocacy is constructive and highlights effective solutions and ideas to address problems. At the beginning of the year we published we published our Briefing to the Incoming Government 2021, which focuses on key priorities for children in New Zealand.

You can read our briefing here

Creating positive change

Our children and tamariki are our future. Today's children will grow up to be our co-workers, teachers and leaders. It's essential that children are loved, cared for, encouraged and supported to develop and be all they can be. This is why Barnardos advocates for all children, and to help create positive change for and with children.

We welcome your support to join with us in building a culture of respecting, protecting and celebrating all children as the taonga they are.

Collective Power
Five to Thrive

Tick For Kids

Children’s Rights Alliance

Social Service Providers Aotearoa (SSPA)

Five to Thrive

Five to Thrive is a collective advocacy campaign run by four of New Zealand’s leading children’s organisations; Barnardos, Save the Children, Whānau Āwhina Plunket and Te Kāhui Mana Ririki. The Five The camapign was formed in 2020 with the vision of working together to put children at the centre of the 2020 General Election.

Many of the things Five to Thrive advocated for during the Elecion campaign are reflected in the Government’s manifesto, and now Five to Thrive is continuing to advocate on our five key asks. In doing so, collectively we are holding the Government to account on its promises for children over the next three years.

Amplifying children’s voices

As well as solid research and evidence, Barnardos' advocacy for children's rights and well-being is informed by the lived experience of children, tamariki, young people and rangatahi and what they tell us.

  • We represent and reflect children's voices in our advocacy, to influence positive change which will have real outcomes for children in New Zealand.
  • We amplify children's experiences and elevate their voices — so they can tell their own stories.
  • We draw on the insight and knowledge we have from working with and listening to a wide range of children, their families and whānau across our Early Learning Centres and Home-Based Network and our Child and Family Services.
  • We consult with children on decisions that affect them and work constructively with the government and other key decision-makers on their behalf, to share their views and to present solutions that will work for Kiwi kids.  
  • We lobby, petition and campaign for awareness and advancement of the rights and well-being of all children in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • We partner with other organisations to extend our impact and do what’s needed to deliver our vision of an Aotearoa New Zealand where every child shines bright.

Get in touch

If you’d like to know more, contact Sonya Hogan, Senior Advocacy Advisor.

Sonya Hogan

Children and Young People's experiences of COVID-19

Reflections on the time in lockdown & feelings about Level 2

On 13 May 2020, the last day on New Zealand's COVID-19 Alert Level 3, we polled a small group of children and teenagers to find out how they are feeling about the situation we are in. We polled them through our Barnardos 0800 WHATUP Instagram, so they know that help is there for them from our trained counsellors if they want a safe place to talk about anything at all.

In our poll, we asked how they felt about Aotearoa moving to Alert Level 2, about their time in their mirumiru (bubbles) under lockdown, and what they were looking forward to as the COVID-19 recovery journey begins.