The people who know best what it is to be young and vulnerable have added their voices on how we can do better for New Zealand’s neglected, abused and disadvantaged children.
For six months, from September 2011 to February 2012, the Government asked New Zealanders to think hard and speak up about how we can improve the lives of vulnerable children.
More than 9,000 people and organisations had a say on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children, including 300 children and young people whose views were sought and put into submissions by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.
At Child, Youth and Family residences, primary schools and youth groups, children and young people were invited to take part in discussions, write, draw, answer questionnaires or record their views on what is important to children and young people.
Deputy Children’s Commissioner Dr Jo Cribb said the contributions were outstanding:
“There were common themes – children and young people want to be respected, they want to be loved and they want to feel like they have some control over their lives.
“They wanted their parents to ‘stop bashing them’ and for adults to respect them.
“They wanted to be listened to and for the adults in their lives to believe in them and their abilities. They wanted to be with their families and feel safe.
“We were blown away by the Green Paper rap the young people at Te Maioha o Parekarangi Youth Justice Residence produced – a great example of the powerful impact of giving young people a voice on things that matter to them.”
At Te Maioha o Parekarangi, the young people wrote and performed a rap with important messages for the government to hear. Local youth workers supported them, and former Split Enz band member Mike Chunn helped the young people produce a good quality recording of the rap. (The lyrics and links to the recording are on the following page.)
A good childhood is about feeling safe where you live and feeling cared for, respected and valued for who you are, and what you think and say.
(The key message from Children’s Voices on the Green Paper, a submission from primary school children as told to staff from the Office of the Children’s Commission.)
Turning voices into action
A team at MSD is now studying more than 9,000 submissions, working with other agencies on the ideas and reporting to Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.
To make sure everyday New Zealanders had a voice during the submission period, Ministry of Social Development staff took to the streets, markets and malls in a campervan. They visited 32 communities from Kerikeri to Invercargill hearing first hand from ordinary New Zealanders their views, ideas and above all the importance they place on doing better for vulnerable children.
More than 2,000 people attended multiple community meetings fronted by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and Green Paper facilitators Sandra Alofivae,
Norm Hewitt and Murray Edridge.
In response to the key themes, the Government will release a White Paper and Children’s Action Plan later in the year.
Thrive, belong, believe to achieve
Green Paper Rap by the young people of
Te Maioha o Parekarangi Youth Justice Residence
I’m a thrive, belong,
believe to achieve,
no limits aim high boy
reach for your dreams,
I spread my wings,
open them and fly,
I’m setting no limits
as I reach for the sky.
My dream is the making of who I am
I replace the words ‘I can’t’ with the words ‘I can’.
Salvation’s my plan, now I start to understand
what it takes to grow into a real man.
My head’s no longer hidden and buried
within the clutches and chains of the adversary
so I carry and lift my thoughts and head real high
with focus and determination in my eyes.
I was born to fight, bias to one side,
see I got no limits, got me reaching for the sky.
When I was on the street, all I think is ‘just do it’,
coz the crimes in the past were all opportunist.
See the crimes I did turned my life to a mess…
life’s simple, make a choice at that,
aim for the sky, then you never look back…
I’m a, thrive, belong, believe to achieve,
unlock life’s secrets with my skeleton key.
Every place that I see, has its own misery,
straight up young homie, come and take a walk with me,
as I fly through these streets and change history.
Gotta act differently, first in your family,
it won’t happen suddenly, but when it does what a mystery…
Every night that I drop to my knees,
I’m begging God please,
can you set us all free
and send us back to our families.
Be healthy, be loved, be protected from harm,
have positive connection to achieve the strong.
I coming through from residence,
made the wrong decision
and now I’m missing out on the family’s presence
and its breaking my heart into a thousand pieces,
changing my mind.
I choose to take the right path
cos the drugs n’ crimes in my life aren’t making me thrive.
…never mind all the hate, let it pass with grace,
allow me to unlace our mind and faith.
Tell me what the kids need
to feel bright and young, healthy and strong,
to feel like they belong, stand tall,
got them answers for those rights and wrongs.
Maybe we will take each other to a place
where we can sing and love with grace…
I’m givin’ it my all and I’m not givin’ up no day
Yeah listen up,
I got a lot of questions on my mind…
Does it hurt when you die?
Do you know when I lie?
Can you feel my pain when I cry?…
Was this life meant for me?
I know there’s something out there, there’s gotta be…
I ain’t gonna give in easily…
Now it’s time to learn from yesterday, live for today,
over time I want it to be a better day.
I hate it when I see tears from my Mama’s eyes,
it makes me wanna rise and reach out for the skies.
I need to set my mind free,
set me free from this misery,
I need to get a J.O.B
would do just fine G,
so follow me
as I reach up for the skies...
*These lyrics have been abridged.
Full audio versions of the Green Paper rap written and performed by the young people of Te Maioha o Parekarangi Youth Justice Residence are on YouTube: