Media releases and reports

UNICEF Aotearoa and NZ Government partner to ensure children have the best start in life

The partnership will ensure more children across the Asia Pacific are in preschool and school, and making progress in their learning.

28 JULY 2021 – UNICEF Aotearoa and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) are proud to announce a multi-year, multi-sector partnership to support and build the resilience of children in five countries, in the Pacific and Southeast Asia, ensuring they receive the best start in life.

The NZ$16 million partnership is a significant step towards strengthening the impact of our combined work for children, ensuring communities in Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have improved access to water and sanitation, and families in Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and Kiribati are supported with Early Childhood Education and Care.

“We are thrilled to be working in partnership with the New Zealand Government towards sustainable development for children in the Pacific and Southeast Asia,” says Michelle Sharp, UNICEF Aotearoa Chief Executive Officer.

“UNICEF specialises in strategic and targeted delivery of overseas development assistance. As the recognised global lead agency for children, we have global, regional, and local expertise and in-country presence to enable the delivery of results for children in water and sanitation, education and parenting, and health.”

The partnership will ensure more children across the Asia Pacific are in preschool and school, and making progress in their learning. Additionally, the partnership will invest in climate resilience programmes so children and their families have access to sustainable, equitable drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities, particularly during pandemics and tropical cyclones. Parents and teachers will be supported with information and education programmes, so children can play, grow and learn.

“We know there are high rates of children who have no or limited access to pre-school education, and barriers to their learning” says Sharp.  

“Investment in the early years of life is essential. They are the foundation for progress, both for children and for society as a whole. This is an opportunity to change the course of children’s lives and make a tangible difference for generations to come.”

“Building a resilient Pacific and Southeast Asia for children is a key focus in our partnership with UNICEF Aotearoa,” says Jonathan Kings, Deputy Secretary of the Pacific and Development Group, for MFAT. “Children’s well-being is central to intergenerational well-being. This partnership will help to ensure that our development assistance is effective and inclusive, and that it drives sustained results.

The partnership will engage governments, civil society organisations, local communities and partners, and leverage collaboration through combined expertise, networks, and resources. It will aim to strengthen the voice and self-reliance of local communities, and ensure sustainable change for children in less resilient marginalised communities.

UNICEF Aotearoa — Mō ngā tamariki katoa

UNICEF Aotearoa are one of 33 National Committees and seeks to make life better for all tamariki by advocating for the rights of children in Aotearoa, partnering with the New Zealand Government to deliver programs to tamariki in the Pacific and raising funds for UNICEF’s worldwide emergency and development work. For more information about UNICEF Aotearoa and its work for children visit

UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to protect the rights of every child. UNICEF works in the world's toughest places to reach the most disadvantaged children and adolescents – and to protect the rights of every child, everywhere.