Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Zealand A Great Place To Raise Kids?

Why is it that in New Zealand councils seem to think that putting signs up is the answer to dangers in play parks?

You’d think after the scalding death of the little Toromon in Rotorua’s Kuirau Park, councils would have learned that signs are not enough where the safety of  young children is paramount.

This was in today’s Herald
A small boy was left with second-degree burns to his feet from playground equipment heated by the sun.
David “Noah” Jones, 2, needed hospital treatment after climbing on metal rails at the Wesley Community Centre in Mt Roskill on Tuesday.
His mother told the Herald
My friend heard him screaming and saw him standing on the ground and he was standing like he wanted to lift his feet off the ground. He kept saying, ‘It’s hot! It’s hot!’
“When I got there a minute later the skin was hanging off his feet.”
She said she did not see what her son was climbing on, but believes it was a climbing frame with metal bars.
Air temp that day was 27 degrees Celsius, not exactly a baking hot day.

It seems that other toddlers get burned in NZ playgrounds and its highly likely that Safekids only gets to hear about a few of them.

Safekids New Zealand is the national child injury prevention service, and a service of Starship Children’s Health. They told the Herald that other children have also been burned.

We think there are probably many other cases they aren’t aware of because not every parent seeks hospital treatment for their child.
Safekids New Zealand director Ann Weaver said each summer her organisation saw a case of a child being burned by playground equipment.
“But we’ve never seen someone burnt by climbing rails. There have been examples where kids have been severely burnt on a slide, and needed hospital treatment. They are always kids aged between 18 months and two years.
And what is the council’s solution?
“The council was looking into the incident and would consider adding warning signs.” Read the full report here
What’s so wrong with providing shade? Not only will it prevent contact burns but it will also protect kids from UV burns;  NZ has the world’s highest rate of melanoma.

But Auckland Council may be well aware of that overheating is being caused by lack of shade because it admits
"Please note: some of the playgrounds do not currently meet the safety requirements. As Auckland City Council upgrades these playgrounds we are ensuring that they then meet this standard."
Although it doesn’t say which playgrounds don’t meet those requirements.

No right to sue
New Zealand’s has a no-fault Accident Compensation Scheme. The Accident and Compensation Commission administers a 24 hour, 7 day per week, no-fault, comprehensive accident insurance scheme covering New Zealanders and those people visiting New Zealand. In return for this cover, people do not have the right to sue for damages if another person, or organisation, is at fault.

No fault can also mean no responsibility.

You may also be interested in

Hot Pool Fencing and Signage Under Scrutiny In Kuirau Recreational Park

Auckland playgrounds- which are best? In a thread on a parenting forum, one mother says “Gladstone park on gladstone road in parnell is quite good it has a couple of good slides but no shade and gets quite hot in summer.”

Children in NZ – Facts and Stats

Today's posts - click here


  1. Mum hating it hereFebruary 10, 2011

    Kiwis of my acquaintance always tell me that NZ “prides itself on not coddling its children”. They evidently think it is a good idea to produce a superior Darwinistic product through “hardening” and a high risk tolerance. Given the alarming abuse, disease and accident statistics, this belief is widely put into practice. As to whether it reflects well on them compared to other places that do “coddle”, as these sorts of Kiwis seem to think, I leave that up to the readers of this blog.

  2. The problem with ‘Darwinism in action’ is that kids spend most of their developmental years learning how to survive, leaving little time for more advanced social or intellectual development. Some migrants consider NZ as being perilously close to a developing country in this respect.

    On another post a reader quoted this

    “Based on information drawn from focus groups, we argue that reluctance to change behaviour results partly from investments in particular cultural identities which are tied into hegemonic masculinities and understandings of national identity, such as the masculine pioneer heritage established during the colonial period.”

    Old habits die hard.

  3. thank you for an insightful view of this topic, which I have enjoyed reading with curiosity. "New Zealnd a great place to raise kids?" Sometimes, on your travel throughout the country, I often ponder this...Pro rata the statistics are not enticing... But then, I often think back to the UK, much of child safety or abuse (mainly) ocurs within the family unit. In the UK, people just get stabbed or raped from strangers all the time. I think what is perhaps a major concern in NZ in terms of child safety and their surroundings is swimming pools, or infaltable pools. According To Auckland water safety campaign, 80,000 inflatable pools are sold a year in this country. The law is quite clear on this stating that any water retaining structure, that holds water ata depth pf 400mm requires a safety fence. Alas, I ahve lost count of the amount of pools where this is ignored....

    Anyway back to the original point, I do sincerley believe that compared to some EU countries and the UK, NZ is a much safer place to raise your kids. Thats all, thanks for listening.


  4. Thank you for your comments. We'd be interested in hearing your explanation as to why NZ has one of the worst records for preventable child deaths, far worse than the other countries you mention?

    You may also wish to read our blog for today "NZ Poverty Not A Lifestyle Choice, Poor Families Can’t Even Afford Basics"


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