Growing Up in New Zealand is a longitudinal study that provides an up-to-date, population-relevant picture of what it is like to be a child growing up in New Zealand in the 21st century. It recruited and collected information from both mothers and their partners from before their children were born, and it has undertaken several further data collection waves during the children’s first two years of life. It is unique in terms of its capacity to provide a comprehensive picture of contemporary child development across multiple domains of influence for children born in New Zealand, and for including significant numbers of Māori, Pacific and Asian children as well as New Zealand European and other New Zealanders.
From its inception the Growing Up in New Zealand study has been explicitly designed to follow children from before birth until they are young adults, to understand ’what works’ for children and families (rather than primarily focusing on negative outcomes) and to consider pathways of development across multiple domains of influence. This will allow a much better understanding of the complex interplay of all the factors that lead to child outcomes including growth, health, behaviours and cognitive development. The model of child development shaping this study is child centred, but never forgets that children develop in dynamic interactions with their families, communities, environments and societal contexts over time. This conceptual approach to the study acknowledges the growth in our understanding of early child development in the last few decades, with an increasing recognition of the importance of the antenatal period and the first few years of life for shaping future developmental pathways for children.
This iteration of Growing Up consists of two reports: Now We Are Born (March 2012) and Employment and parental leave around the time of birth (June 2014).
Now We Are Born
This first longitudinal report describes the children’s development from before their birth and through the critical first nine months of their lives. The report highlights the breadth of information that is available from the children and their families in these early months, but it is not the end of what is possible. There is much to be done yet todescribe more fully the associations that exist between the diverse environments that these children are growing up in and their development to date, as well as into the future. These analyses will be undertaken over the next several months as the more detailed level data is fully prepared and more complex modelling is undertaken by the study team. In this report there are examples of what is possible, but these are only indicative of the evidence that is yet to emerge from this rich resource. This evidence will contribute important information about the development of our new generation of New Zealand children that will help to inform strategies to ensure that every child born in 21st century in New Zealand is enabled to thrive, belong and achieve (New Zealand Government, 2011).
Employment and parental leave around the time of birth
Little is known about parents’ experiences of recent parental leave in New Zealand, including their antenatal preferences and postnatal realities. This policy brief describes such parental leave experience of the parents in Growing Up in New Zealand, particularly focusing on leave anticipated and taken around the time their cohort babies were born (2009-2010).