Hundreds of life-size cardboard children tagged along with Tauranga business people, councillors, teacher and doctors to mark this year's Buddy Day, yesterday.

Buddy Day is a nationwide event in which people carry cut-outs of children known as 'buddies' around with them throughout their working days as a way of highlighting the message of keeping children safe.

The day was launched with a breakfast at the city's waterfront, where councillor Matt Cowley met his buddy for the day - Skye Marie Poppins, 12.

"She's an incredibly active 12-year-old girl. She loves gymnastics, going to school and dressing up," Mr Cowley said.


"That's why she's in a Halloween costume today. She's dressed in a suit because we don't discriminate against other kids on what they want to dress up in."

The buddies are created by children, who also build a back-story for each cut-out. The buddy profiles are recorded in an accompanying diary.

Mr Cowley said Skye wanted to dress up especially yesterday because it was Friday the 13th.

Skye was set to accompany Mr Cowley to several meetings. "It's going to be a long day for us," he said.

Mr Cowley applauded the efforts of Buddy Day organisers.

"Unfortunately New Zealand has a bad history around child neglect and other issues. This is a positive way to show a different attitude around those things and offer positive reinforcement, to shine a light on issues that can be quite negative," Mr Cowley said.

Tauranga Hospital also took part, with 76 senior managers and staff there and at Whakatane Hospital spending the day with their buddy.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board chief operating officer Pete Chandler said it took a community to raise a child and the hospital was a focal point of a community so staff took it seriously.


"It's up to all of us to look out for our children and to be ever mindful of child welfare," Mr Chandler said.

"They are key themes of Buddy Day and it's a great reminder for us all of our responsibilities in those areas, both as health professionals and individuals.

"From a hospital perspective, we also use Buddy Day as a way to stress the importance of getting children to their health appointments. We can help parents and guardians if they're having problems attending, we can work together to get the kids here, which is the important thing at the end of the day."