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Mates & Dates

Mates & Dates is a healthy relationships programme for secondary school students. It’s designed to help prevent sexual and dating violence by teaching young people relationship skills and behaviours to carry with them throughout their lives. It’s about all kinds of relationships, including friends and family.

What is it?

Mates & Dates is a multi-year programme that is taught to years 9-13 in one 50-minute session each week for five weeks. It supports the four underlying and interdependent concepts at the heart of the Health and Physical Education Learning area, targeted at levels 4-8 of The New Zealand Curriculum.

Mates & Dates aims to teach young people how to:

  • have healthy relationships based on respect, negotiation and consent
  • identify inappropriate behaviour
  • get help if they, or someone they know, are in an unhealthy relationship
  • safely intervene in situations that could lead to harm.

Mates & Dates is a strengths-based programme that believes all young people are able act with respect towards their mates, dates, and family in all interactions.

Each year’s content is appropriate for that age group and is taught by male and female facilitators.

Click on the video below to watch a quick introduction to the Mates & Dates programme.

Image from the video player of the Mates & Dates introduction video.

Why is ACC doing it?

Research shows:

  • 15-24 year olds are the group most at risk from violence by current and ex-partners.
  • 1 in 5 female and 1 in 10 male secondary school students report unwanted sexual contact or being made to do unwanted sexual things.
  • 37% describe it as severe and 57% tell no-one.
  • working with young people is one of the most effective ways of preventing sexual and dating violence.

Schools are already working to teach young people about healthy relationships. ACC wants to build on and strengthen that work.

Before Mates & Dates, there were no multi-year programmes based on best practice for secondary students that were available nation wide. After an extensive series of focus groups, the Mates & Dates pilot programme was developed to address this gap.

Delivery of Mates & Dates

The programme has already been delivered across years 9-13 in over 60 schools. 13,000 students have attended Mates & Dates within nine regions. Some students may have attended more than once.

There is potential for the programme to be available across more New Zealand schools dependent on the location of the Mates & Dates providers.

Mates & Dates programme evaluation

Mates & Dates was independently evaluated in 2014. Evaluation activities included pre- and post-programme surveys, observation of facilitator training and programme delivery and interviews with programme participants, facilitators and school staff. Findings from this evaluation were used by ACC to inform improvements to the programme.

The Mates & Dates programme continues to be evaluated and monitored, through an online student survey. The survey is provided by a teacher to students who participate in Mates & Dates, after students have finished the programme. Students access an online link to complete the survey and survey results are analysed by an independent research company.

The 2016 mid-year summary survey findings (PDF 262K) includes the latest findings from the student online survey; where close to 60% of responding students rated the course positively and over 80% talk to someone else about the programme.

In order to continue to improve the programme and monitor and feedback results we are currently working on a comprehensive evaluation and monitoring framework for 2017.

Media review

Mates & Dates has had positive reviews in recent media coverage.

Click on the news item from TV3’s current events TV show Story to watch the classroom delivery of the programme, as well as clips from Mates & Dates resources.

Image from the video player of the TV3’s Story current affairs show about the classroom delivery of the Mates & Dates programme, as well as clips from Mates & Dates resources.

Transcript (PDF 97K)

The Interviews in the programme spoke highly of the need for a programme such as Mates and Dates.

Where can I get more information?

For more information on Mates & Dates email us at:

Reviewed: 16 February 2016