On the seventh anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a $28 million mental health programme for Canterbury's schoolchildren.

She said that since 2011 there had been a 93 per cent increase in demand for mental health services for children and young people in quake affected areas.

"We want to wrap more care and support around these children at an early age," she said.

"We all want our kids to have a happy and carefree childhood but sadly for too many that's not the reality in Canterbury."


The programme, to be rolled out over three years, will ultimately provide a mental health worker for approximately every 500 primary and intermediate age school children in Canterbury.

Every primary school aged child will have access to a mental health worker.

The first schools in the programme will be in east Christchurch and Hornby, where 13 schools will share six dedicated staff.

Ardern is in the city for the anniversary and will speak during a service at the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial.

The anniversary theme this year is "keeping their dreams alive".