Māori parents more supported by whānau when it comes to childcare

By Te Ao - Māori News

First-time māmā Louise Tyson says without the support of her whānau her experience as a first-time mother would have been very difficult.

She’s one of many Māori parents who are more likely to receive support from close or extended family when it comes to childcare.  That's according to the State of the Nation Parenting Survey released today, which found 75 percent of Māori respondents had access to support from close family, compared to 65 percent of non-Māori.

Tyson, of Te Ātihaunui-a-pāpārangi, lives with her partner, sister and two brothers in law who she received vital support from- especially throughout the first six months of being a mother.

“Having them at home meant that I was able to do the most simplest thing like have a shower, clean the house, even do some training – just things that were good for my mental health so that I could be the best mum that I could possibly be.”

The report

Parenting expert Nathan Wallis helped work on the report and was proud to see the support received by Māori parents.

“I think that that’s the base that Māori have around whānau, around belonging and connection, so that strength shines through.”

The State of the Nation Parenting Survey was led by health insurer, nib, who also partners with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to provide health insurance for members of the hapū. 

Wallis says it was encouraging to see iwi have had input into running the survey to contribute to solutions for Māori.

“It’s the same for every people around the world.  If they want to get solutions to their problems they have to generate the solutions themselves.  It’s not just Māori, every race of around the world, over and over again when you get another dominant group imposing a solution it doesn’t work.”

Lou Tyson and her 8-month-old Te Puu Wairua (Source: File).

The pressure to return to mahi

The report found that one in four Māori parents strongly agreed that they had felt pressure to return to work earlier than they wanted to after the birth of their child, compared with 16 percent of other respondents.

But that wasn’t the case for Tyson. She went back to work once her maternity leave ended at 22 weeks.

Due to the support of her workplace, which allowed flexible working arrangements and the support from whānau at home, she found returning to work easy.

“I feel like I’m a great mum and I put it down to my family support,” she says, referring to her close whānau, wider family, in-laws, cousins, and siblings.  

“I couldn’t have done it without all of them.  So, mothers that don’t have the support that I feel like I’m getting, I feel for them and I totally take my hat off to them.”

Wallis says the report will be used to help find solutions for Māori,

"It gives them a voice and shows what their concerns are in a unified way," he says.

"The solutions for Māori need to come from Māori and so part of that is about informing them about what are their collective opinions, what are the issues facing Māori and what supports do we need to put in place to help them."