12 November 2012
NZ Army gets behind Buddy Day in Central Plateau
Students in the Central Plateau region have handed over their they lovingly crafted Buddies to the New Zealand Army for
safe keeping ahead of Buddy Day tomorrow (13 November).
Buddy Day is a national awareness event run by child advocacy agency Child Matters which aims to raise awareness, start
conversations, and drive change about the role every adult plays in the lives of children – from preventing child abuse
to providing great environments for children to flourish.
New Zealand Defence Force engineer Jim Curtis, Corporal Jeffery Reid and Warrant Officer Solomon Vaetoru have collected
100 Buddies from seven schools and preschools located between Mangaweka and National Park in the past two weeks.
The Buddies – cardboard cut-outs of children that have been given personalities, faces, hair, clothing and accessories
by the students – have been kept safe at the Waiouru army base before the Buddy Day breakfast in the main street of
Ohākune at 7am tomorrow (Friday 13 November).
Adults who have registered as ‘Carers’ will adopt the Buddies on Buddy Day and take them out into the community and
their workplaces in a powerful visual display where they can be used as tools to generate conversations about the
wellbeing of New Zealand children – and that it takes a community to look after a child.
This is the first year the Central Plateau region has hosted Buddy Day, which started in Hamilton in 2011 and grew to
include Auckland, Tauranga and Wellington in 2012.
The Ngāti Rangi Trust is leading Buddy Day in the towns of Ohākune, Raetihi and Waiouru with the whole community invited
to take part.
Ngāti Rangi Trust chief executive Andy Gowland-Douglas knew of Buddy Day from her time working in Hamilton at WEL Energy
Trust and saw that it complimented the work the Trust was already doing.
“As iwi we are kaitiaki of our region, this means we have the responsibility of not only looking after our environment
but all whānau who live here as well,” she said.
“In collaboration with the community, Ngāti Rangi has developed and leads the implementation of the Ruapehu Whānau
Transformation Plan – one core aspect of this is wellbeing – and caring for children/tamariki obviously plays a key
“The plan is about the wider region taking ownership of issues and coming up with our own solutions. Buddy Day is also
about communities taking ownership of this important issue to help tamariki so it’s a great fit.”
Commandant of the Waiouru Training Facility Patrick Hibbs said as a member of the Ruapehu Whanau Transformation Plan he
became familiar with Buddy Day.
“I thought it sounded like something that the New Zealand Army would like to be involved in and the guys had a really
good time visiting the schools to collect the Buddies,” he said.
Buddy Day is about doing altogether better for kids. Through the Carers, the Buddies will ask people all day: “What one
thing will you do better for kids in your field of view - today, this week or this year?”
The huge negative impact that the mistreatment of children has on the health and wellbeing of the New Zealand population
is the main reason principal supporter of Buddy Day, Sovereign, became involved in 2013.
Child Matters chief executive Anthea Simcock tells how in its origins, Buddy Day was created to challenge existing
attitudes and behaviours towards the way we value our children, and shift us all towards a society that prioritises the
wellbeing of children in everything we do.
“We know that child protection initiatives such as training, child protection policies and changes in legislation work
towards ensuring children in New Zealand can reach their full potential.
“However, the reality is that we cannot take a nationwide journey to behavioural change without every person – every
community – understanding that it’s their responsibility to do better for all children.”
“We want to encourage people to do what they can to impact children’s lives in positive ways every day – whether it is
making a change for one child, or doing something that will make a difference for many.
“Every child deserves a great childhood, and it is everybody’s business to do what they can to make this happen.”