Growing Up whānau believe study can shed light on the challenges tamariki face

Boy and dog

Mt Eden 12-year old Kanoa MacFie is a fluent te reo speaker, a passionate waka ama paddler, and a proud participant in this country’s largest longitudinal study, Growing Up in New Zealand. 

"I think it’s a cool thing to be part of and it’s good for adults to listen to kids so they can understand more about children lives.  All kids are different and everyone is unique in their own way,” he says. 

Kanoa’s mum and dad, Jada and Pat MacFie, joined the study when Jada was pregnant with Kanoa in the hope that his life story could contribute to a larger picture about what helps children to have good lives.  

Pat, a small business owner, says he recognised the value of gathering data to provide insights to inform decision-making about policies and services to improve children’s lives. 

“We were really keen for Kanoa’s story to contribute to this longitudinal picture of New Zealand children and we’re really hopeful that the study can offer genuine insight into the reality of the challenges that many young people face, particularly Māori and Pasifika young people,” he says. 

“We hope Growing Up in New Zealand can help the government and others understand what they need to do to ensure all our tamariki get the opportunity to participate and contribute to our nationhood, our collective identity and to making Aotearoa New Zealand a better place to live,” Pat says. 

Kanoa is the face of a new Growing Up in New Zealand campaign urging participants in the study to get in touch so that they can be involved in the largest data collection ever undertaken in New Zealand with intermediate-aged children: the Growing Up 12 Year Kōrero/Interviews. 

As a fluent speaker of te reo Māori, Kanoa is pleased that Growing Up in New Zealand offers children the opportunity to complete their questionnaire for the 12 Year Kōrero/Interviews in te reo. 

“It’s awesome to offer the questionnaire in te reo.  I prefer to speak te reo 

“Māori immersion is fun and has been a good journey.  Learning about my culture and having te reo as my first language is great. The Māori immersion unit teaches you to stand strong and be courageous,” he says. 

Kanoa’s passion is waka ama which he got into after he was asked to join a friend’s team. “I think they wanted someone good looking and strong to join the team,” he jokes. 

It’s a sport he loves. “It’s the only sport I have really connected to.  I’ve tried rugby and boxing, but I love anything to do with the ocean.  I have slowly got more and more competitive and now I’m competing on a national level,” he says. 

He’s looking forward to continuing his waka ama and his cartooning into the future and hopes one day to join the family business. 

In the meantime, he’s proud to be involved in Growing Up in New Zealand and to contribute to greater understanding about children’s experiences.  

He hopes other whānau will get in touch with the study so that their voices can contribute to the information gathered as part of the 12 Year Kōrero/Interviews. 

If you are a Growing Up in New Zealand participant, you can update your details so we can get in touch here: