Maria's Story

Love, laughter and happiness - these are essential ingredients for everyone’s wellbeing, but particularly for children in the first 1000First1000DaysImage3 days of their lives. This is when they develop the intellectual, physical and emotional characteristics that define who they are and shape who they’ll become – and it’s when they most need nourishment, a safe, secure and healthy environment, and loving families who encourage them to learn and grow.

As you can imagine, the first 1000 days is a major focus for the Plunket team – it’s when we’re most closely involved with families, and when we’re often privileged to witness their children’s most significant milestones: the first smile, the first step, the first word…

Recently our team were asked about their experiences, and Canterbury Clinical Leader Maria Van Der Plas shared a wonderful story about a toddler visiting the Plunket rooms for her play group’s end-of-year party. Little Ruby walked into Maria’s office with a very special gift: Christmas wishes and a dance, just for her.

“Ruby was delightful,” said Maria. “She was clearly in her element; sociable, inquisitive and with a huge sense of fun. Thinking about it later, I realised how much her personality had developed in her first 20 or so months – and how Plunket had always been there, a constant partner in the background, offering her family advice, support and services along the way.”
Plunket has many touch-points in the community, which all aim to help families build strong foundations for their children – empowering them to become healthy, resilient and productive members of our society.

For example, Ruby’s Plunket nurse would have supported her family in adjusting to the new wee one in their lives, discussing their dreams for their little girl and helping them to make a plan for her early years.

Through regular visits and phone calls, the nurse would also have introduced the family to Plunket’s extensive range of services. They might have made use of our 24-hour PlunketLine, their local Plunket Family Centre or the Plunket Postnatal Adjustment Programme. They would have learned about our parent education programme and, as Ruby grew older, our car seat rental scheme, toy libraries and, of course, play groups.

As Maria said, Ruby’s prospects are already looking bright. Her family are doing a fantastic job and, with Plunket by their side for a couple of years yet, they’ll continue to have access to the services and support they need.

We’re proud to be playing a part in shaping Ruby’s future, as we are for more than 268,000 babies and children throughout New Zealand.
If you would like to help too, please donate now.

To read more about the importance of investing in the first 1,000 days click here
To read more about Maria’s story, click here

If you would like to share your story contact


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