A Book Review by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp
For Each and Every Child/ He Taonga Tonu te Tamariki was published by UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) New Zealand in August 2011. It is a beautiful book, both visually and textually. I love that it sets out the UNCROC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) as though seen through the eyes of a child: indeed, as though a child is presenting these rights to the adult national and global community. (This totally reflects the ethos of this blog: that the children of the world are “our” children).
“This book gives life to the covenant– this unequivocal international commitment to protect, nurture and further the interests of what is potentially one of the most marginalised and abused groups in our community– our children. The words and pictures in this book speak to children, adults, and indeed the whole community about how our children should expect to live in Aotearoa New Zealand, protected by a set of rights that they share with every other child in the world.” Andrew Becroft, Principal Youth Court Judge, Te Kaiwhakakawa Matua o Te Koti Taiohi.
For Each and Every Child/ He Taonga Tonu te Tamariki is bilingual: like its title, each page has the same text in English and Te Reo Maori. The title of the book is not a direct translation: in Maori it literally means “A Treasure, Each of the Children”. I like the inclusiveness of the title’s meaning, in both languages.
Aotearoa/ New Zealand is, for the most part, considered to be a good country in which to raise a child. Issues such as child soldiers, child marriage and child labour do not exist in New Zealand. There are, however, growing problems with an increasing gap between rich and poor in New Zealand society, resulting in a negative impact on those children whose families live in situations of poverty. As well as this, Aotearoa/ New Zealand has a disproportionately high rate of child abuse and neglect for our small population.
In 2007 the rate of deaths of children and young persons under the age of 19 years in New Zealand caused by accidents, murder, suicide or violence were extremely high compared with other OECD countries, with New Zealand having the highest rate of such deaths along with the United States. Source: Wikipedia, see link: wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_abuse_in_New_Zealand
The cover illustration of For Each and Every Child/ He Taonga Tonu te Tamariki is also the illustration for page 12 of the book. It shows a child’s dreams, the potential every child brings into this world.
This is a book which looks deceptively simple, but which addresses a multitude of issues relating to Child Advocacy in New Zealand and the world. It warrants thoughtful reading by adults, as well as reading and discussion with our children. For Each and Every Child/ He Taonga Tonu te Tamariki would also be useful, informative and thought-provoking in any classroom, from pre-school level right through to high school, or even for discussion in tertiary child-related/ social studies.
Further Reading in this Blog:
The Other Children: Child Poverty in Aotearoa
Also, see these links: