Buddy Day back for round two
A room full of cardboard-cutout children can only mean one thing: Buddy Day is here for a second round.
The annual event is organised by Child Matters in an attempt to raise awareness in the community about child abuse.
This year 335 buddies were decorated by schools, childcare centres and other organisations throughout the region and today they will be out and about with their adoptive carers, sharing stories of child abuse.
Positioned with workers in banks, corporate businesses, iwi, cafes and not-for-profit organisations, the buddies are even jumping in on political meetings throughout the day.
Mayor Julie Hardaker said her buddy Charlotte would be standing in as Mayor today and accompanying her to council meetings.
''The sad thing is we've got one of the worst rates of child abuse in the developed world. We should be ashamed of that,'' she said.
"Changing that starts with individuals, and that is why we are here today. Together as a community we have that responsibility.''
Hamilton West MP Tim MacIndoe was sharing the same message, with his buddy Tama Tom from Taupiri School.
''I am really concerned about our child abuse statistics,'' he said.
''Collectively we can and will make a difference.''
Event manager Janine Evans said Buddy Day was about the community coming together in a fun way to acknowledge every adult has a part to play in protecting children from abuse.
"Our key message is: if you are worried about a child, speak up," she said.