Changing the way we talk

The Talking Matters campaign is a call to action because oral language in the early years is an equity issue. Some children in Auckland are starting school with the oral language we would normally expect of three-year-olds. That disadvantage is a significant contributor to the achievement gap between our poorer and more affluent children. The majority of children with low oral language live in low-socio economic communities.

Over 18 months we are developing and trialling effective approaches within select pilot communities. Our initial focus is Auckland; we will develop models that are applicable nationally. We are starting at the beginning of the learning process as this is when we can have the most educational impact.

Partnering-up for impact

Talking Matters is a cross-sector collaboration involving early learning centres, schools, teacher educators, researchers, parenting groups, teacher educators and health and social service organisations.  

Talking Matters is created and led by COMET Auckland - Te Hononga Akoranga, an independent charitable trust and Auckland Council CCO championing better and fairer education, skills and lifelong learning for all Aucklanders.  

NEXT Foundation was launched two years ago and will invest $100 million over a ten year period to create a legacy of environmental and education excellence for the future generations of New Zealanders. For more information visit our website

Talking Matters has been endorsed by Learning Auckland, as a cradle-to-career collective impact initiative. COMET Auckland coordinates Learning Auckland and leads Talking Matters.


The Marie Clay Research Centre for Early Literacy is based in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy Te Kura o te Marautanga me te Akoat the University of Auckland's Faculty of Education and Social Work. The core purposes of the Marie Clay Research Centre for Early Literacy are embodied in the acronym LEAD – to promote Leadership, Equity, Achievement and Diversity in early literacy in our communities.

Embedded within Counties Manukau District Health Board (CM Health), Ko Awatea's mandate is to lead an innovative approach to achieving sustainable, high-quality healthcare services. This will in turn bring positive health outcomes for families and communities.


Janet Gaffney

Marie Clay Research Centre

Janet Gaffney - Marie Clay Research Centre
Talking Matters aligns with the aims of the Marie Clay Research Centre in promoting research and practice in early language/s and literacy learning. Children thrive when adults enter their world by closely observing and listening—seeing the world from this child's point of view—and responding in a way that this child understands that you "get" him. Children's talk is one window to their evolving thinking and learning.Talking with and by children Matters. Ko te reo o te tamaiti te tāonga o tōna ao. The language of the child is the treasure of her/his world.
Mike Ferrand

Next Foundation

Mike Ferrand - Next Foundation
As an ex CEO and now a commercial advisor, I am very aware of the importance of excellent communication in business. The benefits of talking early can only enhance future employees and leaders to communicate more effectively in their work life and personal life. As a father of 2 beautiful children and poppa to a 4-week old girl and 19-month old boy. I literally can "walk the talk" and directly ensure that talking does matter to my grandchildren. I have the privilege to be part of an amazing Foundation– NEXT, as a volunteer.
Jilly Tyler

Ko Awatea

Jilly Tyler -  Ko Awatea
In my role of Campaign Clinical Lead working for Counties Manukau Health, Ko Awatea promotes innovative ways to support health systems and public services. We have been excited to be involved in early language as Ko Awatea fosters an environment in which healthy communities and healthy people have equitable access. I am determined to find ways to support vulnerable communities to grow and develop. Our children will become confident talkers and listeners able to succeed and grow into articulate citizens and able to access the information they need to live happy fulfilling lives.

Sue Wright

Brainwave Trust Aotearoa

Sue Wright - Brainwave Trust Aotearoa
At Brainwave we speak-up about the importance of childhood and how those early experiences can have a lifelong impact. We share the research findings with anyone who is involved in the life of child. It helps them understand how important baby's experiences are during the first few years, as their brain is literally wiring up in response to their environment. Through consistent, loving, responsive care a child learns to manage emotions, develop self-regulation and resilience. Humans are social beings so rich interaction, conversation and communication builds our brains for future relationships and learning.
Tony Culliney

Storytime Foundation

Tony Culliney - Storytime Foundation
Talking Matters and Storytime Foundation's Books for Babies work closely together and share objectives in building stronger families and successful children, through language. There is an identifiable link between parents reading and talking to their children and the child's subsequent reading skills, language skills and cognitive development. Children who are read to and talked with more frequently at an early age enter school with larger vocabularies and more advanced comprehension skills.
Nola Harvey

Auckland University Academic

Nola Harvey - Auckland University Academic
As an honorary academic in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy in the Faculty of Education, I was involved in a TLRI project titled Teachers voyaging in Plurilingual Seas: Young children learning through more than one language..The Talking Matters project offers something for the mana of every child as a member of a family and community. It nourishes the everyday loving, listening and talking together in home and / or heritage languages.
Toi te reo (protect the language)
Toi te tangata (protect the people)
Toi te mana (protect the mana
Jannie van Hees

Auckland Uni Services Ltd

Jannie van Hees - Auckland Uni Services Ltd
The power of language is at the heart of all my work as educator and researcher at the Faculty of Education, Auckland University. My doctoral study explored talking matters related to 5-6 year olds at school. Their thinking, knowing, word comprehending and using capability had been shaped from birth. A baby's brain learns through quality interaction with others. Interaction accompanied by engaging talk fuels a child's brain to learn and know, to be able to understand and express meaning. Talking with and to a child truly matters. What more important role is there than gifting every child the 'magic' of talk so they can become powerful knowers, thinkers and communicators? Each child depends on us – the 'others' in their lives, to travel rich language pathways with them.


The Talking Matters delivery team from left to right: Communications: Julia Moore, Project Manager: Emma Quigan, Director: Alison Sutton, Admin: Anabel Fernadez and Data Analyst: Rajshree Krishnan


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