Children’s Day is a special day set aside to celebrate children. Many countries in the world celebrate Children’s Day, and New Zealand is one of them.

In New Zealand Children’s Day, or Te rā o ngā tamariki, is always on the first Sunday of March each year. On that day, New Zealand comes alive with activities and events designed to bring families together and show how important children are in our community.

How did Children’s Day start?

The initial idea for having a Children’s Day in New Zealand was suggested by the first Children’s Commissioner, Ian Hassall, in 1991.

From then on many people became involved in bringing the idea to fruition, including Children’s Commissioners Laurie O’Reilly and Roger McLay. A National Steering Group was eventually set up in 1999, and a year later the first Children’s Day was celebrated.

Children’s Day celebrations, the annual date being the first Sunday in March, were established to:

  • Heighten awareness of the importance and needs of children in society, and ways of promoting their development.
  • Promote a national focus on children and motivate adults towards positive motivation and support of children.
  • Promote community responses for the ongoing celebration of Children’s Day through local ownership and widespread participation.

Over time Children’s Day has gathered support from various government ministries, community organisations, and businesses. Together these groups have worked to promote five important messages including:

  • Giving Time
  • Praise and Encouragement
  • Listening and Talking
  • Love and Affection
  • New Experiences

The celebrations are focused around spending time with our children, however each year the focus changes to highlight one of the key themes. In 2010, the theme is “Praise & Encouragement“.

It is hoped that Children’s Day will provide families in New Zealand with an opportunity to forge new traditions, and that it will see children celebrated, nurtured, and treasured by all.

How is Children’s Day celebrated?

Children’s Day is celebrated in all sorts of ways right across the country. Some events encompass a whole community, while others simply happen in the home or school.

You can join in on Children’s Day events in your area, or organise some activities of your own. With the theme of ‘Giving Time to Children’ in mind, here are some ideas to get you started.

For some great ideas check out our 23 Super ideas to celebrate Children’s Day with your kids.

Celebrate Children’s Day with your Family

  • Create a wish list with your children of everything they would ever want to have, do, see, and be. Imagine there are no restrictions and that absolutely anything is possible. You may be surprised by what they come up with, and some real insights can be made.
  • Make up a family-challenge bingo, where everyone has to work as a team to complete the card. You could include things like:Do something nice for a family member without them knowing it was you.Try at least one activity you have never tried before.Build a newspaper tower which is taller than you.Beat Dad at a game of chess.Once the task on the card is complete you can celebrate with an ice-cream or special meal.
  • Go on a bush walk or comb the beach for natural treasures you can use to make gifts. Not only will you spend time ‘pushing play’, you’ll also get to spend some time being creative when you get home.

Celebrate Children’s Day with your School

  • Organise a picnic lunch or dinner on the Friday before Children’s Day. You could have it on the school field, and organise some Fair-type games for parents and children to do together. Three-legged races, wheelbarrow races, piggy backs, and egg tossing are all games you need to do as a team.
  • Arrange to spend a morning in your child’s class doing a special activity with them and their classmates. Most teachers are happy for your involvement, and if you plan a little ahead of time you can usually come up with something that suits you both. Look at what you are good at, and see how you can share your skills. Can you cook, garden, or make arts and crafts? Or perhaps you live on a farm or orchard that the children can visit?

Celebrate Children’s Day with your Community

  • Take your children to visit other children who are sick in hospital. You could take in some games for you all to play together, or some of your children’s favourite books which you can read out loud.
  • March is still warm enough to go to the beach, so why not invite all the families in your neighbourhood to a Children’s Day sandcastle competition. The only rule is that parents and children must make the castle together. You could buy a few small prizes if you want, or ask each family to bring along something to put in the prize barrel. That way everyone can be awarded a prize for their efforts.

There are a whole heap of other ideas for celebrating Children’s Day on the offical Ministry for Children website. Regional events are also listed on this site, or phone your local Citizens Advice Bureau to find out what’s happening in your area.

You should also check out 23 Super ideas to celebrate Children’s Day and 15 treasured Children’s Day ideas.

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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