Foreword Aotearoa’s largest longitudinal study, Growing Up in New Zealand , explores the lives of more than 6,000 children from before they were born. This Now We Are Eight report marks the first time we have heard from the cohort directly. At age eight, the children in the study are speaking for themselves, providing unique insights into their thoughts, feelings and experiences as they act with more autonomy and a sense of individual identity. This report presents a snapshot of tamariki life that encompasses the eight-year olds’ families and whānau connections; their neighbourhoods and wider society networks; their mental and physical wellbeing; and their learning and development. Collecting data on the social, health and educational outcomes for such a large, diverse cohort is especially valuable because it can inform policies that contribute to the wellbeing of children and whānau, and helps us realise our goal of making Aotearoa the best place to grow up for kids. A key priority for the government and policy agencies is implementing a programme of action to help achieve the vision of the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy. This report signposts how the analyses of the information from this group of eight-year olds can help inform this strategy. The data in Now We Are Eight confirms that the majority of the children in the cohort are happy and healthy. However, some still experience material hardship, food insecurity and high levels of stress due to financial strain and we know that burden is unequally spread across population groups. There is still work to do. The Ministry of Social Development has championed Growing Up in New Zealand since its inception and each year we award up to $750,000 in funding for social policy- relevant research to investigate the information and data gathered by the longitudinal study. The continued analysis of this information by policy makers, researchers and others can shape government policies that better meet the needs of New Zealand children and whānau. There is much more to learn about this growing cohort as they embark on the next stage of their lives. I look forward to following their progress. Hon Carmel Sepuloni Minister of Social Development 1 Growing Up in New Zealand Now We Are Eight