How we care for our children is a barometer of our families and our society, Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae says in his New Year message.
He said in a year that marks the 20th anniversary of the United Nations international year of the family, New Zealanders should look at how they could help families in difficulty so children could grow up in a safe and secure home.
"While our families are now more diverse, the desire of parents to raise their children in a caring, loving environment has not changed," Mateparae said.
"The care we provide to our most vulnerable citizens, our children, is a barometer of the wellbeing of our families and our society.
"While most families successfully cope with the inevitable challenges life throws at us, some do not."
He said the year of the family anniversary would be a time to take stock and address how we helped those in need.
"As a nation and as communities we need to both celebrate our successes and examine how we can help those families facing particular difficulty so that every child can grow up in a safe and secure home," Mateparae said.
Noting 2014 was also the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, he said: "The New Zealanders who answered the call of service in that war and many conflicts since, did so to protect our country in the hope that their families and their children could live in peace.
"As we recall their sacrifices we should never forget the untold suffering these conflicts caused for families and children," he said.
"As we make our resolutions for the new year and look to the year's anniversaries we should let the lesson learnt so painfully a century ago inform our appreciation of our families and the freedom we have to raise them in peace."
- Fairfax Media
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