The Child is a Treasure (Maori whakatauaki).
The role of the child is inherently based in the experiences of their family, and their well-being is intrinsically linked (Maharey, 2003). This essay discusses the role of children within the context of New Zealand families. The implications of cultural diversity for children across Aotearoa shall be discussed from a bi-cultural perspective. Consideration shall also be given to nuclear and extended family styles in relation to children. Finally, an investigation of social, economic and political influences will be explored as these issues impinge upon children within the context of their families.
Children are interwoven throughout the experiences of the family and as they do not live in isolation, they must rely on adults to make decisions relating to their welfare. The complexity of issues affecting each family impact on the ability of the child to function effectively in today's society.
Much of a child's life is centred on the family and the home. For most children the family provides the context within which they are nurtured and socialised. It is also the economic unit, which determines their standard of living and can have a major bearing on their life chances in areas such as health, education and future socio-economic status (New Zealand Now, 1999).
Defining the social construct of family can be problematic in that New Zealanders' live in a myriad of household types that do not fit a clear definition (Birks, 2001). A commonly accepted view of the nuclear family is two parents and a couple of kids (Turner, 2003). However, it is widely acknowledged by policy makers and social agencies that the term family has a unique range of meaning and living arrangements for many New Zealanders (Maharey, 2003). .
The definition of a nuclear family' is determined as "A couple, with or without child(ren), or one parent and their child(ren), all of whom have usual residence together in the same household- (Statistics New Zealand, 1999, p.