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Early Years

Babies’ futures are shaped through nurturing relationships. Parents and wider whānau have the greatest influence on the development of tamariki in the first three years, so it's important whānau are able to thrive. We’ve got a particular interest in supporting parents and wider whānau to wrap rich oral language around tamarikiOur partners and stakeholders understand the importance of responsive interaction with babies and toddlers and the vital role early language plays in shaping the future identities of tamariki as learners, thinkers, talkers and readers. 

Based on your valued opinions, information from industry experts and insights from COMET we sent three questions to each political party about early years. 

This was their response in alphabetical order:

Early Year1

Eighty percent of brain development occurs by the age of three and is the foundation for creating success in school and life. However, most of the investment is within the first year (i.e. parental leave) and after the age of three (i.e. 20 ECE hours). While the later investment goes in to ECEs who are making a profit, many parents, whānau and communities are not getting their needs met. For tamariki to thrive as learners who live happy fulfilling lives, we need to see whānau supported during the early years. #

David Seymour

MP David Seymour 

What are you doing for families with one year olds? 

We don’t understand the relevance of the question. It is very broad and requires a holistic review of our economic, health and education policies which are available on our website at www.act.org.nz

How would you ensure that all parents have the opportunities to support their babies at home for the needed duration of time 0 - 3 years and what immediate ongoing financial and health support can you offer families to ensure a sustainable quality of life while doing so? 

ACT has developed a set of healthcare policies (including a mental health policy) that are transformational and would deliver improved health outcomes to all New Zealanders, particularly to the disadvantaged and vulnerable. ACT’s healthcare policies are based on a refocus on the patient rather than the current focus on the institution.

What are you doing to get more Māori / Pasifika in the midwife and pre-natal care profession? 

ACT’s healthcare policies are focused on primary healthcare and restoring aligned pathways from secondary through primary to community-based healthcare. 

ACT believes in freedom of choice in education.


Golriz Ghahraman

MP Golriz Ghahraman

What are you doing for families with one year olds? 

The Green Party will increase Best Start to $100 per week and make it universal for all children under three. This will give more money to families with one year olds and two year olds, recognising the essential value of caregiving in the early years. The Green Party also supports improving child to teacher ratios in Early Childhood Education, with a priority for under 2's.  

How would you ensure that all parents have the opportunities to support their babies at home for the needed duration of time 0 - 3 years and what immediate ongoing financial and health support can you offer families to ensure a sustainable quality of life while doing so? 

The Green Party’s approach to Best Start will make it much easier for parents who choose to stay at home with their children to do so – while also supporting parents who return to work to meet the additional costs of childcare, or work reduced hours. The Green Party will also simplify Working for Families into a Family Credit of $190 per week for the first child and $120 per week for each subsequent child, with a higher abatement threshold and lower abatement rate so more families are supported in the early years and beyond. A Guaranteed Minimum Income with top ups for single parents will make it easier for all whānau to meet their needs, and find paid work that fits in around caregiving rather than being pushed into unsuitable work by a punitive welfare system.

What are you doing to get more Māori / Pasifika in the midwife and pre-natal care profession? 

All whānau need culturally appropriate support, especially as part of prenatal care and during childbirth. Green MP and Associate Minister for Health has secured the largest ever funding boost for primary maternity services, including dedicated funding to develop services that integrate a kaupapa Māori approach to maternity care. The Green Party recognises more needs to be done to remove barriers for Māori and Pasifika to enter health professions, and in the next term of government we will require tertiary institutes to report on their responsiveness to the needs of Māori students. We will also ensure sufficient funding for primary health care, including maternity care, to be provided through Māori organisations, overseen by a new Māori health agency, with particular focus on remote areas with significant health disparities.


Chris Hipkins

Hon. Chris Hipkins

What are you doing for families with one year olds? 

The Families Package that we’ve rolled out in our first term that will see 384,000 families with children on average $75 per week better off and 50–74,000 children lifted out of poverty, 

As part of this, families with one year olds, who earn under $79,000 a year before tax, now get $60 a week through the Best Start tax credit is a new payment from Inland Revenue. For families with an income over $79,000 a year before tax, the Best Start tax credit will reduce by 21 cents for every $1 earned over $79,000.

How would you ensure that all parents have the opportunities to support their babies at home for the needed duration of time 0 - 3 years and what immediate ongoing financial and health support can you offer families to ensure a sustainable quality of life while doing so? 

See previous answer. We’ve also increased paid parental leave to 26 weeks, and given the largest ever funding boost to primary maternity services, so midwives can continue to care for mothers and babies, and kids can have the best start in life.

What are you doing to get more Māori / Pasifika in the midwife and pre-natal care profession? 

Part of the Accord between the midwives’ unions, DHBs, and the Ministry of Health is a commitment to develop a strategy to better support midwives in training, with a particular focus on Māori and Pacific midwives.


Nicola Willis

List MP Nicola Willis

What are you doing for families with one year olds? 

We will put parents at the centre of the system by providing them with individualised funding to spend on whichever services they feel will best meet their needs, and the needs of their baby, during the first 1,000 days of their child’s life.  This new funding will come on top of existing funding, and represents a significant increase in support for parents and children in their first 1,000 days. We have also pledged to lower the ratio of teachers to babies for under two years olds in licensed early learning services. 

How would you ensure that all parents have the opportunities to support their babies at home for the needed duration of time 0 - 3 years and what immediate ongoing financial and health support can you offer families to ensure a sustainable quality of life while doing so? 

National believes parents and families are best placed to decide the education and care arrangements that best meet their needs and circumstances. While some parents may choose to stay at home with their children we recognise others will wish to access high quality early childhood education (ECE). We are committed to policies that support that choice. 

We support the current entitlement to 26 weeks parental leave but will also ensure it can be split between spouses or partners who are caring for the child, including being taken at the same time. 

What are you doing to get more Māori / Pasifika in the midwife and pre-natal care profession? 

National is committed to addressing inequalities in our health systems. We know you get a better outcome in many health services if you wrap that health service around the cultural context of the person you’re working with.  We will continue to build on efforts to attract a diverse range of New Zealanders to the midwife and pre-natal care profession.


Tracey Martin

Hon. Tracey Martin

What are you doing for families with one year olds? 

Please see attached New Zealand First’s Children and Families Package. This policy is based on the Universal Family Benefit which provided support for all families and allowed them the choice to use that support to stay at home with their child or to purchase care.   

How would you ensure that all parents have the opportunities to support their babies at home for the needed duration of time 0 - 3 years and what immediate ongoing financial and health support can you offer families to ensure a sustainable quality of life while doing so? 

Please see the attached policy. Please note the ability to capitalise on the first child for a deposit on a family home. Many of our families are able to pay a mortgage because often their rent is more than what a current mortgage would be but they cannot save the deposit – this policy would see many more of our families able to invest in their own home which in turn increases children’s attendance at education facilities, increases volunteering and decreases crime – to name just a few positives. 

What are you doing to get more Māori / Pasifika in the midwife and pre-natal care profession? 

See attached Up Front Investment Tertiary policy– with workforce planning and targeted fully funded support we believe we can provide greater diversity in all areas of need.  New Zealand First has also been working on policy development with Maori Midwives and this work is ongoing. 

COMET