For the majority of Kiwis, it's second nature to slap on a hat when the sun is shining in summer.
For many families, however, a sun hat is not something to be taken for granted, but a luxury that can't always be afforded.
In an effort to change that, a new initiative with Meridian Energy and KidsCan will see 20,000 sun hats given to children in low-decile schools and early childhood centres across the country.
The hats will be provided by Meridian, a long-time partner of KidsCan. And quite simply the Meridian sun hats will unlock the ability for kids to play outside.
Michael Healy, Meridian's chief marketing officer, says the initiative goes hand-in-hand with other projects the company does with KidsCan.
Helping children get outside and enjoy the sun also ties in well with Meridian's focus on wind, water and sun, plus other renewable energy sources, says Healy.
“For someone who wants to create energy out of the sun - brilliant, the more sunny days the better, but for kids who really need to get outdoors to go and play - without a hat they can't. So while we celebrate the sunny days, at the same time we've got to make sure these kids are getting out there in the sunshine too.”
"It's not a replacement for the work that KidsCan and Meridian have been doing together already - it's actually representative of a deepening of our partnership," he says.
Julie Chapman, KidsCan founder and chief executive, says the project is to help provide basic necessities for children facing hardship and came as a response to feedback from teachers and principals.
"When we look at what kind of requests we get from schools, sun hats are right up there as one of the most requested items so I know that schools will be very happy," says Chapman.
Due to rules at many schools, Chapman says, children are often not allowed outside on sunny days if they aren't protected from the sun. That means those without a hat can miss out on the many benefits outdoor play brings.
"A lot of schools don't necessarily have a lot of shade for students to be able to access and on a hot day I think the last place kids want to be is stuck in the classroom. Being able to have a sun hat means they can get out during playtime and run around and be protected."
"Most people would probably not really think about a sun hat as being something that parents couldn't afford, but when you add up all the other costs - you add up the cost of living, the cost of renting, the cost of housing - there is very little or no money left at the end of each week to pay for those little extras like sun hats," says Chapman.
The first lot of sun hats were given out when classes began in February to make sure kids can protect their little heads in the height of summer.
Visit https://www.meridianenergy.co.nz/powertoplay for more information about the Meridian and KidsCan sun hats initiative.
This article is created for Meridian