To vape or not to vape… Have you been sucked in?

Cathy Cooper, Psychologist, takes a look at the vaping and youth literature and gives us an overview.

Childhood Experiences. By Sue Bagshaw

Most counsellors, psychologists, psychotherapists and even psychiatrists will tell you that many difficulties in adulthood can be traced back to when you were a child.

A FAIR CHANCE FOR ALL? Breaking the Disadvantage Cycle. By Jane Higgins

Kiwis value fairness. It’s commonly held that ‘a fair go’ is a core value of the Kiwi way of life, and that everyone in Aotearoa does have a fair go at getting an education, a job, an income. After all, our state schools don’t charge fees, and the job market is out there waiting. Surely, if people just work hard enough then they can achieve all that they deserve.

Time for Oranga Tamariki to rise to the challenge of Te Mātātaki 2021? By Kath Harrison, Kaitohutohu Matua (Senior Advisor) – Evaluation and Research VOYCE Whakarongo Mai

On 28 May 2021, Oranga Tamariki (OT) released findings from their first annual survey, Te Tohu o te Ora, designed to hear from tamariki and rangatahi about their experiences in care. The questionnaire was designed with input from tamariki and rangatahi to ensure it was “engaging, accessible and focuses on aspects of care experience that are important to them” (Oranga Tamariki, 2021a, p.7).

How does hoarding disorder affect young people? By Janet Spittlehouse

A few years ago I wrote a paper about hoarding and personality (Spittlehouse et al 2016). This was the first paper to estimate the prevalence of hoarding disorder in those age 50 and over in NZ. We concluded that approximately 35,000 New Zealanders (2.5%) may have the disorder and a further 56,000 (4%) may have significant but subclinical symptoms which are likely to worsen as people age.

Disrupted lives: How has COVID-19 impacted girls and young women around the world? By Louise Tapper

With the COVID-19 pandemic still front and centre around the world, I thought I would follow on from Sharon Gardner’s thoughtful research reflection last month and look at the impact that the ongoing pandemic is having on girls and young women globally.

“I have great hope for tomorrow, my hope lies in three things – truth, youth and love.” Richard Buckminster Fuller. By Sharon Gardner

It has been more than a year now since the pandemic hit and turned the world upside down. With family in India and the US living a completely different reality to us here in New Zealand, I have witnessed the scathing repercussions of the virus in these other countries.

Why isn’t my professor Maori? By Cheyenne Scown

Sitting on the wharepaku at the university library (where all the best thinking happens), I was met with a poster on the back of the door. The words “Tāngata tū, Tāngata ora | People prepared to make a difference” were emblazoned across it. As a Māori student, this piqued my interest, and I began to read further.

Critical Positive Youth Development as a foundation for supporting youth activism. By Hilary Dutton

Young people are always at the heart of social change. While often dismissed by adults for their idealism, it is this underpinning belief that we can do better that makes positive change possible.

The use of puberty blockers in gender transitioning adolescents. By Janet Spittlehouse, Kaden Russell and Sue Bagshaw

For some people, their innate sense of self does not fit with their biological sex. This experience is called gender dysphoria. Sometimes medications called ‘puberty blockers’ (Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues) are used to stop the production of reproductive hormones.

Where to from here after the cannabis referendum? By Rose Crossin

I was doing a lot of reading in the run-up to the cannabis referendum, particularly around the public health impacts of legalisation. Part of the challenge is that we don’t always have the data we want or need to make decisions, or there is data from only a short period of time, or from a different cultural context.


This year I worked with a high school student with a diagnosis of Social Communication Disorder (SCD). I had no idea what this meant for the student, which meant the student unwittingly provided a great learning opportunity for me.

Leading for Systems Change, by Judy Bruce

Have you watched The Social Dilemma? This is a documentary where tech experts sound the alarm on the dangerous human impact of social networking. If ever there was the need for systems change then surely this would be it?

Been There – Young People’s Stories of Struggle and Hope : An update from a few of the writers one year on

Updates from some of the Writers : One Year Later. Have you read the stories in the book, and wondered what the Young People are up to now? We caught up with them one year one from publishing the book, and here is what some of them are doing.

The Round Tuit Reports: Promoting Equity, Meaningful Participation and Voice, by Ria Schroder

You know in these busy times, the great thing about being asked to write “a reflection piece about something I have read lately”, is that I have just spent the last couple of hours reading through the ‘round tuit’ reports. You know the ones I mean.

Whenua as the foundation for health, by Sharon Moreham

I’ve been thinking about whenua/land a lot lately and its bearing on our health and wellbeing. My cousins and I are planning a trip to Rakiura/Stewart Island to visit whānau/family whenua. It’s the first time any of us have been there. There will be tears.

The Young Guerrilla Self by Steve Langley

Young people need to be able to cope, to thrive in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties. Earthquakes, the Mosque attacks, Covid 19, the imminent economic downturn, looming climate change and the ‘manufactured uncertainties’ of contemporary society all fuel concerns about how we support young people.

Re-Feeding Hope, by Olivia aged 17

Hope and I used to have a close relationship. Rather like a helium balloon, attached to a string I held in my hand, for the first twelve years of my life it followed me everywhere. Through my primary schooling, my soccer games, family game nights, the bitter New Zealand winter and the salt-tinged beachy summer.


Art has always offered me a place of refuge, healing, clarification of my thoughts and a deep source of strength during difficult times. My belief in the transcendence of art led me to this article. The article is about a study exploring how youth define resilience through collective art making.

Pain and the Brain by Dr Sue Bagshaw

There are all sorts of pain, some sensations of pain are sometimes perceived as pleasure, but usually pain is a warning of danger. It seems to me, sensory input requires a cognitive explanation, which is very much driven by context and past experience. This “explanation” to ourselves might be conscious or subconscious.

(Re)thinking about Sexuality Education by Tracy Clelland

A few weeks ago, I started teaching a University ‘Sexualities Education’ course (stage 2 paper). I have taught this course for over six years and still relish the opportunity to challenge students to think critically every single day.

An educator’s reflections on “An Indian Father’s Plea” By Christoph Teschers

I came across this open letter a couple of year ago, and although it is dated and from another continent, it is a powerful text to help us reflect critically on cultural difference and diversity again and again. I still use this text in my teaching today and I re-read it occasionally as it becomes relevant in my courses around inclusive education.

Role sharing between stakeholders and evaluators by Sarah McKay

In my practice we are increasingly undertaking evaluations in which more of the evaluative activities are shared between the evaluator and stakeholders. The move towards Developmental Evaluation has influenced this, as it is a more flexible approach that includes key stakeholders throughout the evaluation such as involving them in choosing methods and co-analysis of data.


One of my favourite things about being a health promoter is being able to work with parents to find ways they can open or strengthen their communication with their young people. I’m always trying to find new techniques and skills that parents can take home to have a go starting conversations about health-related topics with their young people.

Assessment of children and young people using a strength-based tool. By Cathy Cooper

Psychometric assessment tests are structured and standardised measures of cognitive, behavioural or emotional functioning. They provide information that allows for inferences to be made about an individual based on comparison with a larger group of similar individuals who have also completed the same test (New Zealand Psychologists Board, 2015).

Exposure to sexual media content: What are the impacts for young people? By Louise Tapper

Any society is made up of different communities. One of the most influential communities for young people is the online world of social media.

Te Reo Māori gave me Hope. Brianna Age 17

Growing up, I always had one parent with me.

The Search for Identity of Muslim Immigrant Youth in New Zealand by Sharon Gardner

The events that took place in our city on the 15th of March affected so many young people in so many different ways.

Suicide reduction and forgiveness. By Michael Hempseed

When we think about suicide prevention, we think of crisis intervention, medication, counselling and reducing access to lethal means. Why don’t we think about forgiveness?

The Attitude Gap Challenge: A South Auckland Employment and Skills Challenge. By Jane Higgins

Why do many employers report that young people have a ‘poor attitude’ towards employment? Why do many young people become discouraged in the process of seeking work? The Attitude Gap Challenge is a 2016 research project that set out to understand the lack of connection between young people and local employers in South Auckland.

Turning up ACEs in Canterbury By Fi Rice

In a deck of cards there are four aces. Often they help you win. But over the course of a childhood four ACEs are not a winning hand. Instead, they may be a sentence of chronic disease, dysfunction and even early mortality. Of course these ACEs are not cards – they are Adverse Childhood Events.

Reflection on the Wellbeing and Public Policy Conference By Adelaide Reid

I recently attended the Wellbeing and Public Policy conference in Wellington. There were over 100 presentations on a wide range of approaches to wellbeing, including planning for wellbeing, wellbeing theory and measurement, children’s/youth wellbeing, cultural wellbeing and community wellbeing. We also heard from government ministers about their plans for wellbeing policy.

What is depression? By Dr Sue Bagshaw and Michael Hempseed

In the last few weeks, there has been a great deal of talk about “what is depression”. Many people think that depression is just an emotion, that is equal to anger, or opposite to happy. We don't call anger a mental illness, so why do we call feeling sad and down an illness?

Caregivers have hopes and dreams for their young people with FASD by Trish Jamieson

The month of September is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) awareness month throughout the world. Recently in the media we have heard that up to 3,000 children are potentially born with FASD symptoms in New Zealand every year. FASD results from the unborn child being exposed to alcohol while in utero causing permanent damage to the Central Nervous System (CNS).

Considering youth participation in evaluation by Sarah McKay

In my work as a researcher and evaluator I am informed by positive youth development values such as youth participation. Participatory or empowerment evaluation seeks to actively include stakeholders such as young people in substantive ways in the evaluation process.

Building Trust With Children Who Have Experienced Developmental Trauma by Candace Bobier

I recently came across the special issue in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy from 2017: Relational Trauma and Family Therapy. Linda MacKay’s descriptions of the articles contained therein had me so enticed [1] I couldn’t decide which article to read first.

Supporting Transgender Students to Thrive in their Schooling by Cathy Cooper

School attendance is compulsory in Aotearoa New Zealand for all students aged six to sixteen years. Most children start school on their fifth birthday and many remain until the end of Year 13 when they tend to be aged seventeen or eighteen years (Ministry of Education, 2017).

Young People and Volunteering by Louise Tapper

I have been doing some research lately to help out a young person who is setting up a social enterprise. He is looking at ways of supporting small businesses to develop employee volunteering schemes. His aim is to match the businesses with not-for-profits so that a more personal, on-going connection is established between the employees and the community organisation.

Sleep and suicide by Michael Hempseed

Too often we exclusively talk about the link between depression and suicide. While there certainly is a link between depression and suicide there are many other factors that can contribute to suicidal ideation, such as feelings of hopelessness[1], personality disorders[2], trauma[3] and a same day crisis[4], such as a relationship breakup.

The Power Threat Meaning Framework By Anne Scott

In January this year, a new report was published online by the British Psychological Society which presents a radically new way to think about the diagnosis of functional mental illnesses, or mental illnesses which are not rooted in brain damage or neurological disorder.

The Use of Social Media - Dr Sue Bagshaw

There has been much discussion in recent times about the destructive effect of social media on the development of young people, especially under 15 year olds. This ranges from the dangers of pornography to the disappearance of the skills of non-verbal communication and the rise of social phobia.

Considering the Participation and Protection of Young People Taking Part in Research By Sarah McKay

The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child recognises children and young people’s citizenship rights. This includes their right to participate in decisions that affect them, including in the development and evaluation of services for them. An ethical issue in research and evaluation that involves young people is enabling their participation in ways that ensures that they do not come

Raising Awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in New Zealand By Trish Jamieson

September 9th has been recognised as International FASD Awareness Day Awareness of FASD has been growing since the early 1990s in New Zealand (NZ). FASD is the result of permanent damage to the central nervous system (including the brain) to the unborn child, when a woman consumes alcohol during pregnancy.

Home Grown Research: Its Value and How to Know It's Good By Dr Jane Higgins

The word ‘research’ often conjures up images of overseas experts in academic institutions working with massive data sets and complex theories. While these sorts of studies often produce significant results that are valuable for creating evidence-based policy and practice, it’s important not to miss the great research, often small-scale, that’s done here in our corner of the world.

Creating Closer Communities By Brenna Russell

“Strong public awareness and participation in matters relating to mental health and well-being” and “increased community well-being” were two key outcomes outlined in the job description for the Community Connector for Rural Ashburton and Selwyn Districts. A role that I have now filled for just over a year.

Anne shares her thoughts on The Munro Review of Child Protection from the London Department for Education By Anne Scott

I wasn’t expecting to have much reading fun when I picked up this report, which is being cited internationally and has made a real splash; most reports are rather dry, and I was reading this one because it relates to the research we’re doing on child custody when parents have mental illnesses or addictions. However, I got a very pleasant surprise.

How common are common mental disorders? By Sofie Hampton

The Dunedin Study has had a considerable amount of media coverage in the last year, including a television series titled “Why am I ?”. This study is famous because it tracks the lives of just over 1,000 people born in Dunedin during 1972-1973, and it is still continuing 45 years later.

Collaboration between educators and industry to improve workplace learning By Adelaide Reid

Ako Aotearoa recently released a report on a National Project Fund project that they have been working on with Downer, Connexis and Primary ITO*. The project aimed to improve the outcomes and retention of apprentices at Downer through establishing mentoring relationships within the organisation.

A healthier world? Individual responsibility within a global initiative' By Anneke Beardsley

"I was interested to find out more about how youth had been involved in the process of establishing these goals, and I came across the article Facilitating health and wellbeing is “everybody’s role”: youth perspectives from Vanuatu on health and the post-2015 sustainable development goal agenda.

The government’s move towards purchasing outcomes: what are we losing? By Sarah McKay

Recent research by the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services outlines the added value that is provided by community based services. It highlights how community based organisations are becoming increasingly marginalized as the government moves towards funding social services through larger organisations and private providers.

Understanding “the alphabet children”: Supporting twice-exceptional learners. By Louise Tapper

Recently some education professionals have become more aware that there are students in our schools who are both highly able and still have learning or behavioural difficulties. They are twice-exceptional learners.

Growing up with a parent who has mental illness - By Kelly Pope

'Something that has struck me, three weeks into the job, is how many of the children and teens we get to spend time with are such bubbly, happy, easy going, well-rounded kids. This personal experience has stood out as a bright light against the backdrop of much of the research which takes a deficits approach to children whose parents have mental illness.

Gaming addiction; a lonely place - By Michael Hempseed

As a youth worker my role involves making an initial assessment then navigating a young person to the right service. I am having more and more trouble finding help for these young people.

Youth Participation in Service Development - By Melanie Atkinson

I want to discuss the idea of youth consultation and participation in relation to the establishment of a new service in Christchurch (Arahina ki Otautahi) for children and young people in the care of Child, Youth and Family who are not engaged in education or training.

Starting School in Shaky Town – the Canterbury earthquakes and their continued impact on children - by Fi Rice.

As a parent of a child born in September 2010 I am especially interested in emerging research around the effects of quakes on children. Many parents could easily assume that their very young children may not have been old enough to be aware of or affected by the events surrounding Canterbury’s recent natural disaster.

Advice for Parents on Suicide and Suicidal Behaviour in Young People: Like Searching for a Needle in a Hay Stack - by Sarah Wylie.

As the parent of teenagers, I had the experience several years ago of my son losing a close friend to suicide. For our family, this came out of the blue as our worst nightmare. Within the space of a few short hours we moved from travelling away on a weekend holiday to we, as parents, sitting outside an interview room at the Police station while our son was interviewed.

Why We Need to Move Towards Youth Centred Services - by Sarah McKay

The government has indicated that young people who are disengaged from education and employment will be an increasing priority for them. If they are serious about this they need to take a lead in policy and funding towards an approach that addresses the resources needed to provide holistic services that place the wellbeing of young people at the centre of the programmes that we provide for them

Te Kooti Rangatahi: The Way Forward For Maori Youth Offending by Cathy Cooper.

Te Kooti Rangatahi works within the contemporary legal context however is marae-based and utilises tikanga Maori. It is an option available to all Maori aged 14-16 years appearing in the regular Youth Court and allows those who admit the charges they are facing to have their court matters heard on the marae.

Research Reflection: Adolescents Crafting Identities After A Period Of Time Outside Education, Training And Employment. Jane Higgins.

Jane Higgins (PhD) has worked in youth transitions research since the early 1990s, most recently as a senior research fellow at Lincoln University. Read Jane's reflection on her own research (published in 2012- access the full report here) interviewing young people who had left school with low or no qualifications and how those young people actively crafted their identities as adolescents....

New means better and the latest research always trumps that old research… right? Andrew (Maps) Curtis

The view of addiction from Rat Park is that today’s flood of addiction is occurring because our fragmented, mobile, ever-changing modern society has produced social and cultural isolation, even though the cage is invisible.

Socioeconomic inequality and giftedness: Suppression and distortion of high ability. Louise Tapper

Children who lack resources such as education and good nutrition do not have the same lofty aspirations as children who are not deprived in this way. Ambrose describes this as “socioeconomic barriers to aspiration discovery and talent development"