Students Q&A

Students participating in Nest’s senior programmes are given access to a digital question box and will find their questions and answers here! Utilising our best research and resources you will find a link which will take you to your answer or further information.

If you have a question – post it using this link then return here in 48 hours for your answer. Some questions have already been asked (perhaps in a different format) so please read through the below Q&As!


Consent Questions:
Q– What is the age of sexual consent in NZ?

A– The Age of Consent in New Zealand is 16 years old. The age of consent is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity. Individuals aged 15 or younger in New Zealand are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity may result in prosecution for statutory rape or the equivalent local law.
New Zealand statutory rape law is violated when an individual has sexual contact with a person under age 16. The age of consent is raised to age 18 if the offender is in a guardianship role. A defense exists if the offender reasonably taken precautions and believed the victim to be 16 or over.

Q – What if one or both people are under the age of 16 years old (i.e. if one is 15 years and one is 17 years or both are 15 years for example?)
– New Zealand does not have a close-in-age exemption. Close in age exemptions, commonly known as “Romeo and Juliet laws” in the United States, are put in place to prevent the prosecution of individuals who engage in consensual sexual activity when both participants are significantly close in age to each other, and one or both partners are below the age of consent.
Because there is no close-in-age exemption in New Zealand, it is possible for two individuals both under the age of 16 who willingly engage in intercourse to both be prosecuted for statutory rape, although this is rare. Similarly, no protections are reserved for sexual relations in which one participant is a 15 year old and the second is a 16 or 17 year old.
(More info here:

– What is consent?
Q– What is the legal meaning behind consent? (Also see above)
A– Consent is agreeing to do something, or giving or getting permission for something. Consent is a crucial part of healthy relationships and we use consent all the time in different ways. It is an on-going process and people can change their mind at any stage. When referring to sexual consent, you cannot give it if you are under 16, if you are being pressured, or if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We will talk about consent a lot over the 5 week programme.

Q– How do you know if someone has changed their mind about consent? / How can you be sure someone has consented?
A– Great information from here and here

Q– What about alcohol and consent – how much is too much to be able to consent?
A– Find you answer here

LBGTQI Questions:
Q– Can a transgender person have a period?

A– Yup! A period is all about a persons biology. A trans male can have a period if they have a uterus.

Q– What is intersex?
A– See lots of information here:

Q– How do I know if I might be pan or bi? What’s the difference?
A– See lots of information here:

Q-How does someone determine whether they are trans or genderfluid –
A– Read up – there’s a great article here

Q– How do lesbians get have a child?
A– They may adopt a child, or use donor sperm.

Q –Do lesbians have sperm?
A– Nope, sperm is produced in the testicles. If you don’t have testicles, you don’t have sperm.

Why do people make fun of gay people? (a person made fun of a gay person in the class)
A –
Why do people make fun of anyone? A couple of thoughts. Sometimes, if a person doesn’t fit into a stereotype of how they think a person should be, they make fun of them, or,  maybe they feel insecure themselves and by making fun of someone they feel better. Perhaps they are just going along with what their friends are saying and doing without thinking about it for themselves. What can you do if someone is making fun of someone? Not laugh at the jokes, tell the person to stop, or be friends with the person they are making fun of so they know they are a great person and that nothing is wrong with them. Everyday should be pink shirt day, no matter what we are wearing.

Q– What’s it like being gay?
– What being gay is like, would be a unique experience for every individual gay person. If you asked a 100 gay people what it is like being gay, you would get 100 different answers. What might affect how a person feels about being gay is; their support from  friends, their parents and extended family, school and community. Do they have other gay friends? Does their religion tell them homosexulity is wrong? Are they trying to keep this a secret? Are they trying to change? (which, by the way, you can’t) Are they out and proud, in a healthy relationship? Check out Rainbow Youth, they support queer and gender diverse youth in NZ.

Q– Can I identify as anything? If I can identify as a different gender can I identify as a different age? Can you identify as an animal?
A– Gender Identity is a very important subject to understand. I think there is sometimes confusion with the basic definition of it.  Mates and Dates defines gender Identity as one’s innermost concept of self as male or female or both or neither. It is how people perceive themselves and what they call themselves.
People may say “I am choosing to identify as a male or female.” However, that statement is misleading as it states there is a choice. People who identify as male or female or non-binary, are not making a choice but rather just are. I can choose to put on a t-shirt or jumper, but I cannot choose if I am male or female or neither. One just is.
You can act older or younger than you are, but your birth date doesn’t change. Can you identify as an animal? Some cultures think so, but again, one just is, you can’t choose to identify as an animal, it is your innermost concept of self.

Q– Can you be gay, lesbian and straight all at the same time?
A– Who a person is attracted too, can be fluid throughout a persons’ lifetime. That means you may not always be only attracted to men or only woman or always to both.   You might only be attracted to one gender your whole life, but not everyone is. It is also normal to be attracted to someone of your own gender, but you only have relationships with someone of the opposite gender.

Relationship Questions:
Q- What is a healthy relationship?
A healthy relationship is one of mutual respect, trust, good communication, understanding and honesty. It should be a positive experience for both people involved.

Q– How should people react to peer pressure?
A– There is no magic answer to standing up to peer pressure, it does take courage.
1)   Listen to your gut, if you feel uncomfortable, even if your friends seem OK with it, this is not for you.
2)   Make a plan ahead of time. For example, if you are going to a party and you know there will be drinking there, think ahead how you will handle the situation. If you are holding a water bottle you are less likely to be offered a drink.
3)   Have a code word for your parents so you don’t have to lose face with your friends. Can you text your parents a code word and they call you and tell you to come home?
4)   Get comfortable saying no. With good friends, no explanation may be needed. If you get teased, a casually  stated “ whatever” , then moving on should suffice. If you don’t care, they won’t either.

Q–   How do you know someone likes you?
A– There are no rules for this, but trust that gut again! Some common signs that the person likes you might be:
-They can’t take their eyes off you, they want to be near you, they remember things that you say. They think you are hilarious even if you totally aren’t, they smile like its’ going out of style, they tell someone they like you.
Dating and flirting is a normal and super fun part of growing up. Enjoy it.

Q – Do you have to have a girlfriend?
A – Having a girlfriend (or a boyfriend) is not essential. If you are happy living your life and do not feel ready for a relationship that’s absolutely ok!

– What makes a relationship last?
– I think a good healthy relationship involves communication and respect. A relationship will last if you support each other and feel good about yourselves. Having fun and enjoying each other’s company is very important, but it’s also important to have a good fulfilling life outside of that relationship.  Enjoy separate hobbies, and don’t ignore your friends.

– How do I handle a potential breakup because of conflicting religions?
– Even if you belong to different religions, one thing must be there no matter what: mutual respect. Making fun of another person’s faith, denigrating a religion or seeing it as less valuable than your own is a sure way into conflict – and definitely not into a happy relationship. Faith is as individual as it is important. If we don’t feel accepted in our faith & think we need to change, we often react to it with retreat, defence and insecurity. This is a great article for more info.

Q– What traits are unhealthy in a relationship?
A– In unhealthy relationships, people are not treating each other well or with respect. Often one person is trying to be the boss or using power over the other person.
Examples of behaviors’ that are unhealthy are:
They get jealous when they see you talking to other people
They call or text you all the time
They put you down or embarrass you in front of others
They get angry if you won’t to sexual things with them
They don’t want you to spend time with your friends.
If you aren’t feeling good about yourself in a relationship, think about it, it may be time to end it.
How to respect relationships
A Respectful relationship is one of mutual respect, trust, good communication, understanding and honesty. It should be a positive experience for both people involved.

– How do you know when a relationship is toxic or not working?
A– If you don’t feel good in a relationship, trust that feeling, In unhealthy relationships, people are not treating each other well or with respect. Often one person is trying to be the boss or using power over the other person.
Examples of behaviors’ that are unhealthy are:
They get jealous when they see you talking to other people
They call or text you all the time
They put you down or embarrass you in front of others
They get angry if you won’t to sexual things with them
They don’t want you to spend time with your friends.
Any of these sound familiar? If so, It may be time to end the relationship.

Q– How to know when a relationship is good?
– When a relationship is good and healthy, it feels good! Healthy relationships involve communication, negotiation, consent. They are respectful relationships that you can have with anyone in your life, including whanau, friends, and dating partners. Do they listen and support you? Enjoy spending time with you, and also without you? Can you tell them your problems? Do you feel safe with them? If so, it’s looking like this relationship is a good one.

Questions about breaking up from a relationship:
Q – How do you leave a toxic relationship?
– Great advise here: Scarleteen

QShould you trust someone after they cheat on you?
Q – What’s the point of love if you’re going to to be betrayed?
A – Great article here: She Blossoms 

Questions about abusive relationships:
Are their any other types of ways to abuse other than physical, mental and emotional? Like any other way?
Well done for realising abuse can be much more than physical.  Abuse can come in many forms. All of the ones you mentioned as well as financial, neglect, and sexual abuse.

Q– Why do people stay with people who are abusive?
Q – if your friend is an unhealthy relationship but they don’t want to end it and maybe don’t see that they are in one, what do you do to help them?
A– Interesting question this one. What do you think? Maybe they think it was a one- time only thing, or that they will change. Perhaps the person being abused think they are the only ones that can change them. They may have been threatened that if they break up with them  they will hurt their family or a pet. They might think that having an abusive partner is better than no partner at all.
Abusers are manipulative. They will apologize and tell you they are sorry and ask for forgiveness.  They will then be a really great boyfriend or girlfriend for a while, until something changes and the abuse happens again.
Please know that Abusive relationships are not OK. They only get worse, they do not get better. You have a right to be safe, and the abuser needs help. Please look at the 0800 numbers at the back of the Mates and Dates book or call 111 if you are at immediate risk.

Questions about Parents / Caregivers
How do you talk to your parents about an abusive relationship you are in with your bf/gf?
Tough question, and I’m sorry to hear you are in this situation.  Well done for realizing that you need to talk to an adult about this. Are you still in this relationship? Do you need help not being in this relationship?  Are you at risk right now? I would pick a time when there are few distractions. Right before bed? During a car ride? Tell your parents you have something serious you want to talk to them about. Let them know what is happening, and don’t get frustrated at their first reaction! Sometimes parents need time to process information, and they may not say the best thing first. You need to come up with a plan together. You can block them from your phone and tell your family that you don’t want to talk to this person anymore.  Your safety is the most important thing, it is never your fault. Check out the last page of your Mates and Dates Workbook for lots of websites and support phone numbers.

Q-What should someone do if their parents are manipulative?
A– Sigh. Parents can be hard work. It’s all about communication. I don’t know your exact situation or what your parents have done, but here are my tips for better communication with your parents: REMEMBER – Communication is a two -way street, the way YOU talk can influence how well a parent listens and understands you.
1)   Talk every day, even about nothing. Share something that your teacher said, small talk about your friends. This will help keep your relationship comfortable.  Even if your relationship with your parents is strained, it’s never too late. Try easing into strained conversations, mention a cute thing your dog did, compliment your brother for doing well in math. Just try to get some positive vibes in the house.
2)   Know what you want from a conversation. Do you want advice?  Tell them. Do you want them to be quiet and just listen? Let them know.  For example ,“Mom, I need to tell you about a problem I’m having, but I need you to just listen, OK? Don’t give me advice – I just want you to know what’s bothering me”.
3)   Difficult Topic? Identify your feelings – “Dad – I need to talk to you about something – But I’m afraid I’ll disappoint you.
4)   Be clear and direct, Be honest, try to understand their point of view
5)    Please don’t whine. It will make it harder for your parents to take you seriously.
6)   Need a break? Not going well? Go let off some steam and try again later.
Unfortunately, some parents have troubles of their own and aren’t available in the ways their kids need and deserve. Who else is in your life? Relative? Teacher? Find an adult who will listen, understand, encourage and believe in you.

Q– How do you tell your parents that you have a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner?
A– Do you think they will be OK with this? If so, just straight out say, it, perhaps  over dinner “ I have a boyfriend, and you can meet him this weekend, “ if your family does that annoying teasing thing, just say something like “I will answer three questions, then we are moving on”.
If you think your parents will disapprove, it’s still important that they know what you are up to. Look at communication skills. Try something like “ I know you may be upset or worried but I want you to know I am dating someone. I don’t want to keep secrets from you’. 

Questions about love & sex
Q– How/Why  is love like blue cheese?

A– It really isn’t. lol.

– What is love?
A– A million songs and poems have been written trying to answer this question.  I think romantic Love refers to a deep, tender feeling of affection towards someone. Of course there are other types of love, like love you have for a friend, or a sibling and your pet.

Q  -Is sex fun?
A– I think sex can and should be fun! But it should also be taken seriously. If you are not ready for sex, if you feel like you are doing something wrong because you know your family or religion wouldn’t approve, if you are feeling pressured, if you are just doing it because your partner wants to, I don’t think sex would be much fun at all! Ask yourself, am I ready for this? Do I want to have sex? Do I want to have sex with this person? How can I protect myself against pregnancy or Sexually Transmitted Infections? Remember, you cannot give consent to have sex if you are under the age of 16. Only 25% of secondary school students in NZ are having sex, so please don’t think that everyone is and that should just do to get it out of the way! Sex will be way more fun when you are ready.

Questions about fertility / menstrual cycle / ejaculation / reproduction / pregnancy
– If I think I am pregnant where do I go for advice?
A- You can talk to your School Nurse, GP or Practice Nurse in complete confidence. Or you can visit a Family Planning Clinic You can attend a local clinic or schedule a phone consultation. Details are on their website.

Q– Do you need parental agreement for  a termination of pregnancy in NZ?
There is no legal age limit on seeking or having an abortion. This means that a woman or girl of any age can agree (consent) to have an abortion or refuse to have one. No-one can force you to have an abortion or to continue a pregnancy. It is also your decision who you tell about the procedure – this includes your parent and parents. If you are a teenager, it is a good idea to talk to a parent or another trusted adult. If you do choose to seek an abortion, it is good to have adult support. You will need to see two doctors who must agree that you have good reasons for the abortion under New Zealand abortion law. More information here 

Q– If you are infertile is that good?
A –Being infertile, means you are medically unable to get pregnant, or to get someone pregnant. Whether that is good or not, depends on your views of having children.

Q –Is adoption a good thing?
A– I think it can be a very good thing, It means, someone who was unable to take care of their baby gives their child to someone who can. If you need to talk to someone about adoption or if you think you are pregnant you can talk confidentially to a nurse or counsellor at your local Family planning. It’s free for NZ residents under the age of 22.

– When having a period does hurt?
Q – How does a period feel?
– Some people don’t feel their period at all, but others do feel some discomfort when they have their period. Often people feel it as cramping in their lower abdominal, or as back pain. Grab that hot water bottle, do some gentle exercise, and make sure you are taking care of yourself with plenty of sleep and eating healthy foods. If you are worried your period is way too painful, excessively heavy or lasts longer than a week, please don’t suffer alone! Talk to someone you trust, a parent, an auntie, your school nurse etc. Having your period shouldn’t stop you from doing all those things you love.

Q– When pregnant and is too scared to tell parents or family or friends because you are scared of getting abused who do you go to? And how can you hide it from your parents?
A– This is not something that you can keep as a secret. If you are pregnant, or think you are pregnant, you need to talk to a doctor or nurse as soon as possible. If you don’t want to go to your family doctor, please visit your local Family planning. It’s free for NZ residents under the age of 22. They will be able to offer you confidential support and discuss the options that you have. If you decide to carry on with the pregnancy, you will not be able to hide it from your family. You need medical support, and your baby needs medical support. A plan will need to be made for when the baby arrives.
If you are too afraid to talk to your parents, please think about who else is in your life that can help you. Is there one friend that you trust? Can they go with you to the school counsellor? What about a friends Parent? A neighbor? An Auntie or grandmother? A cousin? Your form teacher? A past babysitter? I understand that you are afraid, but this is one situation that you can’t ignore.   Please remember there are numbers you can call. If you are too afraid to talk to someone you can text 234, and a trained counsellor can help you.

Q – How much sperm does a man produce in a day?
A – Testicles make several million sperm per day — about 1,500 per second.

– Should I be worried if I haven’t ejaculated sperm during masturbation by the age of 14?
– It’s completely normal to be 14 and not able to ejaculate yet. It’s entirely about how far along you are in puberty. Age 9 to 16 is the normal start of puberty. During the first year of puberty lots of stuff is happening inside as well as outside. Your prostate goes from penny sized to walnut sized. Other glands that add fluid to your semen are also developing. You will have your first ejaculation close to 12 months after the start of puberty. From a statistical viewpoint, a majority of boys cannot ejaculate on their 13th birthday, but a majority can on their 14th birthday. But a boy that doesn’t start puberty until age 15 won’t ejaculate until he’s 16. You don’t have to strain or push or do anything special. Just continue masturbating and one day it will happen. It won’t be much at first, but will increase quite a bit over the next four months or so, and takes about 2 years to be your full adult load.

Questions about friends & support:
Q– Who can you go to when you want to talk to someone(when you are scared to talk to your parents, family, friends and teachers?

A– It’s OK to feel scared. Sometimes the only thing you can do with fear is to feel it, but then do what you have to do anyway. Talk to that parent or friend. You can also see below for a  list of helplines & websites that are there to support you.  You are stronger and braver than you think. Good luck.

Q– How can we give support to each other when we don’t know what to say?
A– Acknowledging you don’t know what to say is ok. Being a good friend can mean just listening and being there for them. Physically going with them to a counsellor, or just giving them a hug. Great question, it shows you are a compassionate friend already.

Q– How do I help my friend with her depression?
A– Don’t be afraid to start the conversation with them.  Being depressed can be an isolating experience. Your job as a friend is to support her. Things you can do is, listen more than talk, (save your advice for later), offer reassurance, say things like “ Thank you for telling me this” and “I am here for you”. Ask if they would like to go to the school counsellor, and offer to go with them. Let them know about help lines (see below)
Things that aren’t helpful are saying things like “ Cheer up,” or “what do you have to be depressed about?” Also, please don’t avoid them because you feel uncomfortable, they already feel alone, let them know you will stick by them through this.

– I want to learn how to start a conversation or how to talk to someone if you are a shy person
A– Start practicing with people you know, work on your eye contact, body language, remember to smile, then branch out to new people.
Think about some conversation starters, or introducing yourself. If you sit next to someone new  in the library you can say “ Hey I’m Chris, I think we are in the same English Class”, or “great Jacket where did you get it?”  Being ready with a question, makes it easier to approach someone. Don’t worry if it doesn’t go as planned, be proud that went for it, it will get easier with time and practice, and remember people don’t judge you nearly as much as you judge yourself.

QHow do I tell the difference between fake and real friends?
A – Great article here

Mental Health articles/supports
How do I stop self harming?
Firstly, we are so glad you asked. 
If you would like professional help to manage and recover from self-harm you should make an appointment to speak to your School Nurse or GP. Alternatively call one of the help lines below. Try and be honest about why you self-harm. People self-harm for different reasons. This will help professionals to find the right support for you. Don’t give up if the first thing you try doesn’t work. Other treatments might be better for you. It can be difficult to ask for help but it’s so worth it 💞.
Great info from here. Also, here’s an article on how to stop cutting. This is also a really great article which gives suggestions as to how to stop self harming from ReThink.

Other Questions!
– What is ‘wee’ , how is it made and where does it come from ?
A– You will find you answer here

Q-Is it normal for a 13 year old girl to masturbate? Or even as young as 10?
A-Masturbation teaches young people that (a) they have agency over their own bodies and (b) what they’re comfortable with. It can be a great way for tweens (yes, even as young as 10!) & teens to learn about what feels good for them.

Q-Can masturbation lead to infertility?
A-No 🙂 – read above


Safe to Talk  0800 044 334 – Sexual harm – for you or to help someone else

Shakti Youth 0800 742 584 – 24 hr help line.  Free and confidential support for women, youth and children from Asian, Middle Eastern and African backgrounds going through family violence

SPARX –  online e-therapy tool provided by the University of Auckland that helps young people learn skills to deal with feeling down, depressed or stressed

Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email or online chat – or email or free text 5626

What’s Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, 12noon–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available from 3pm–10pm 7 days a week, including all public holidays.

Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age. Open 24/7.

OUTLine NZ – 0800 688 5463 (OUTLINE) provides confidential telephone support – sexuality or gender identity helpline