The national rollout of period products in schools has been launched at Auckland Girls' Grammar this morning.
All state and state-integrated primary, intermediate, secondary schools and kura are eligible to receive funded pads and tampons for students, which is expected to cost $25 million over three years.
Since Term 3 last year, only 15 trial schools in Waikato have had access to the products. The scheme was supposed to be extended to all Waikato schools at the start of this year, but that was delayed.
This week schools across the country that have placed orders will start to receive their products.
Auckland Girls' Grammar deputy head girl Kendall Bramley says the products will make a big difference.
“The period products will help us a lot. It’ll break barriers for a lot of students who currently have to ask the nurse for free products. It’ll help with financial problems at home, students not able to ask their parents for help… it’s a huge problem in our school.”
“We know that nearly 95,000 nine to 18-year-olds may stay at home during their periods due to not being able to afford period products. By making them freely available, we support these young people to continue learning at school,” Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti said.
Tinetti says although there still nearly 800 eligible schools that haven’t signed up to receive the products, the number of schools opting in is continuing to grow.
“It’s going right throughout the whole of the country, we know as of today over 500 schools have ordered and received their products. There’s about 300 going out in the next couple of days, we’ve got more to go out after that as the orders start going in.
“It’s something that I think as it grows, as they see schools participating, other schools will want to be part of it too.”
Paeroa College is one of the 15 schools that’s been trialling the free products since July last year. Principal Amy Hacker told 1 NEWS it’s already made a “significant” difference to attendance.
“Since 2019, attendance of girls has gone up by 10 per cent, attendance of boys has gone up two per cent. We have had the free lunches in schools in that period but because there's been such a large increase in attendance of girls, I'd have to say it's attributable to the period products,” Hacker said.
Four companies including New Zealand brands The Warehouse, Organic Initiative and Crimson Organic have won the tender to supply the first phase of the rollout.
The Government says there will be a re-tender in three months, and the way products are delivered will be refined - for example by student direct orders, bulk supply distributed through a trusted adult, or dispenser units in bathrooms. The rollout will also include education about period products and menstruation.