Dear Prime Minister Bill English
We ask that you please restore funding to the Growing Up in New Zealand research study to enable it to continue to track the health and development of all 6,800 New Zealand children in the study.
Why is this important?
The government has recently cut funding to Growing Up in New Zealand. What is this research about, who is it for, and why does it matter?
Based at the University of Auckland, Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) is the largest and most diverse longitudinal study to ever track the lives of children in Aotearoa/New Zealand. It is the only study to track them from before birth through young adulthood.
This groundbreaking study represents the lives and stories of almost 7000 children and their families, providing unique insight into what shapes children’s early development and how interventions might be targeted at the earliest opportunity to give every New Zealand child the best start in life.
Where previous research conducted in Aotearoa/New Zealand had much narrower frames of reference, GUiNZ is the first study specifically designed to look at outcomes for Māori, Pasifika, and Asian children. The study is an important and unique opportunity to support the children of Aotearoa/New Zealand – it tracks the socioeconomic factors that lead to inequality, while also picking up other influences such as disability and disease.
The government recently cut funding to GUiNZ. These cuts will result in only having enough money to collect information from 2000 participants in the upcoming data collection wave. While some may argue that children left out of this wave can be picked up next time, if continuity is lost, the data can no longer be called truly longitudinal.
Inadequate funding of GUiNZ will create holes in the data. There is a risk with such a reduced cohort size, that researchers will no longer able to identify when risk factors facing our tamariki become statistically significant. For the research to succeed (to be able to conduct good, sound, scientific analysis for as many health and wellbeing outcomes as possible) it is essential that all dots stay connected. Losing continuity is disrespectful of all the time and effort this huge group of participating whānau has donated –finding and retaining participants will become so much harder.
Why has this funding been cut?
The current government believes that "big data" (data collected during our everyday dealings with governmental systems like the doctor and WINZ) can tell us all we need to know. Those with any scientific training can tell you it can't, and it won't. Gathering data from people before we know what is going to happen in the lives, shows us so much more. Big data doesn’t have access to biological samples, nor does it give us the depth of information required to understand why families make the choices they do.
Please sign and share our petition.
Then talk about this study - to your family, to your neighbours, to your friends, to your MP and local candidates. The more people that know about this, the more likely we are to have funding restored.
We believe the funding of this critical research should be a priority for the next government of New Zealand. Thank you for showing us you think this is important, too.