Fostering a strong literacy culture has become more important than ever, with numbers of Kiwis who read for pleasure on a continuous decline.

And not only that; an international study for the Unesco showed that 45 per cent of New Zealanders are reading below the level of a 12-year-old – a trend that several organisations are trying to counteract with literacy programmes.

As students start the new school year, the Warehouse Group, the Parenting Place, Life Education and Duffy Books are organising several literacy events across the country which saw Kiwi TV personality Pio Terei visiting and reading to children at the Whangārei Warehouse on Saturday.

"The whole concept of reading to kids is an amazing experience," Terei said.

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"It helps them to develop their love for reading and creates a safe space for kids and their imagination."

Kids and their parents are all ears as Pio Terei shares fascinating stories during this visit. Photos / Michael Cunningham
Kids and their parents are all ears as Pio Terei shares fascinating stories during this visit. Photos / Michael Cunningham

Terei talked about how children could lose a significant amount of their previous school years' learning over the summer break, and that reading with your children can help to lessen this loss.

As part of the literacy campaign this month, The Warehouse and Warehouse Stationery sell bookmarks for $1 to raise funds for the three partnering charities the Parenting Place, Life Education and Duffy Books.

The three organisations have been working together in Northland to support families and the education of children by assisting parents and teachers as well as supplying reading materials.

Hollie McCormack, 5, and Duffy were among enthusiast visitors that came to see and hear Pio Terei.
Hollie McCormack, 5, and Duffy were among enthusiast visitors that came to see and hear Pio Terei.

John O'Connell, Life Education CEO, said the charity was visiting 90 primary and intermediate schools from Whangārei to Kaitaia teaching around 12,000 students.

The organisation travels across the region, including remote rural schools, with a mobile classroom, and staff works with teachers to provide educational content suited for the students.

O'Connell said it was great that the three organisations, Life Education, Parenting Place and Duffy Books, worked together for the betterment of the children – a nationwide collaboration that is not easily achieved.

Charlie Adams, 8, and Libby Adams 3 of Whangārei pose for a photo with Kiwi icon Pio Terei.
Charlie Adams, 8, and Libby Adams 3 of Whangārei pose for a photo with Kiwi icon Pio Terei.
Life Education's Michelle Dow, Duffy, and Pio Terei pose for a photo.
Life Education's Michelle Dow, Duffy, and Pio Terei pose for a photo.