22 September 2017  Reports

Child and youth voices on their positive connections to culture in Aotearoa

Culture is an important part of who we all are. It gives us a sense of belonging, that others share our values and beliefs, to know who we are and where we come from.

Culture includes all the customs, practices, languages, values and world views that define our social groups – whether those are based on nationality, ethnicity, region or common interests.

We know cultural identity is important for people’s sense of self, belonging and how they relate to others. A strong cultural identity can contribute to people’s overall wellbeing. For children and young people, developing a positive cultural identity is linked to protective factors against risks to their wellbeing, and resillience from adverse situations.

Despite knowing cultural identity and belonging is important, we know very little about how young people understand, value and express their culture. So we asked them.

We wanted to hear how children and young people feel about their culture when they have positive connections to it.

The Children’s Commissioner, Judge Andrew Becroft, has set five key priorities to guide his work in 2017. These include improving outcomes for tamariki and rangatahi Māori, providing the best possible advice to ensure the new care and protection and youth justice system under Oranga Tamariki is child-centred, and encouraging other Government agencies and NGOs to better consider children. Understanding the ways that positive connections to their culture enhance the lives of children and young people will help to advance each of these priorities.

The Children’s Commissioner seeks the voices of children and young people through Mai World:Child and Youth Voices.

During 2017, we have sought the views of over 1000 children and young people on their positive connections to culture. "Mai World" takes a child-centred approach to hearing children and young people in order to understand their world.