Building resilience in children, families and whanau

Many families cope successfully with difficult situations and can adapt according to their circumstances but others don't. It's possible to build resilience and is a process that unfolds over time and takes different paths for different people. Here, we've brought our research about building resilience in New Zealand’s children, families and whānau together in one place. 


Bodies of work

Family and whanau wellbeing

Each year since 2013 we have produced a Families and Whanau Status Report and supporting material about the wellbeing of New Zealand's 1.13 million families. This research programme uses data from the Census and General Social Survey plus original research. 


Growing Up in New Zealand

This longitudinal study aims to provide evidence about what shapes children’s early development so every New Zealand child can have the best start in life. 


Individual reports

Patterns of multiple disadvantage across New Zealand families

How we measure multiple disadvantage, the prevalence and types of disadvantage faced by New Zealand families, and where to from here.


Youth Mental Health Project – Improving youth mental health: What has worked, what else could be done

Insights on the progress and effectiveness of the 26 Youth Mental Health Project initiatives. Flags potential ways to improve services and overcome barriers experienced by youth and providers.


Journeys of resilience: From adverse childhoods to achieving adulthood

How many at-risk children go on to achieve good employment and education outcomes, and investigates the key factors that contribute to these good outcomes.


Subjective whānau wellbeing in Te Kupenga

How well Māori think their whānau is doing and the critical factors associated with whānau doing well.


Effective community-level change: What makes community-level initiatives effective and how can central government best support them?

How central government can best support effective community initiatives.


In focus: Families with complex needs: International approaches

Provides an overview of approaches from the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada to support families with complex needs.


In focus: Family resilience

Highlights the importance of identifying critical times for families and then intervening early. Also highlights the opportunity for a cross-sector government approach to supporting vulnerable families to build resilience.


What works: Effective parenting programmes

Looks at local and international programmes aimed at parents of children aged 0-6 years and reviews the evidence for parenting programmes to reduce child maltreatment. Includes parent education, training and home-visiting programmes.


Perceptions of income adequacy by low income families

Explores the strategies and characteristics of families who successfully manage on a low income. A summary using infographics is also available.


Effective parenting programmes: A review of the effectiveness of parenting programmes for parents of vulnerable children

Reviews parenting programmes as a way of reducing the risk of maltreatment of vulnerable children aged 0-6 years.


One step as a time: Supporting families and whānau in financial hardship

Explores better ways to support families and whānau in financial hardship, and identifies practical strategies for working with these families.


Early intervention support and vulnerable families and whānau

Looks at early intervention and support for vulnerable families and whānau.


Whānau yesterday, today, tomorrow

Draws on Māori knowledge, cultural practices and methods to research stories of whānau success. It addresses social, economic, cultural and environmental aspects of whānau development, and concentrates on the period from 1975 to 2011. 


Being a single mum: Pacific Island mothers’ positive experiences of parenting

Looks at a social environment in which families have priority and can flourish, enabling more families to achieve the successful outcomes they aspire to.


Family resilience – The settlement experience for Asian immigrant families in New Zealand

Explores how migrant and refugee families from four Asian ethnic groups experience immigration, and the barriers to and facilitators of a positive settlement experience.


Supporting Kiwi dads: Role and needs of New Zealand fathers

A snapshot of issues related to the role of dads. Includes stepfathers, single fathers, separated dads, teenage parents, foster fathers and fathers from a range of ethnic and social backgrounds.


Healthy families, young minds and developing brains: Enabling all children to reach their potential

Provides a critical overview of research into how minds and brains in young children develop and implications for New Zealand families.


Neighbourhood environments that support families

Explores the relationship between characteristics of the natural and built environments of neighbourhoods and the daily experiences of parents living and raising young children in these neighbourhoods.


You can find research from other government agencies about family resilience on

Last update: 27 Nov 2017