Survey reveals strengths of Māori parents

By Mare Haimona-Riki

A recent survey has shown that Māori parents feel a greater responsibility and are more confident to teach their tamariki about New Zealand history than non-Māori parents.

Neuroscience educator and nib parenting expert Nathan Wallis (Ngāpuhi/Ngāti Kahungunu) puts this down to Māori simply feeling an intrinsic obligation to teach their children the history of their country as a result of mistrust in the mainstream education systems source over the years.

“The Ministry of Education in the old days just made stuff up, so Māori have had to take an active role in this so they’re just more used to it,” says Wallis.

Health insurer nib has released this finding, among others, from its third annual State of the Nation Parenting Survey, which reveals the concerns playing on the minds of parents across the motu, and the lasting impacts the pandemic has had, on their whānau.

According to the survey, Māori parents are four times more likely to explore other education styles, including homeschooling for their children. Wallis says although there is no exact cause for this trend, he suspects that it could be a result of the mainstream system not ‘meeting the mark’ for the education their tamariki are receiving.


“You see it with other minority groups. Whatever their beliefs are, if they’re not being met by the mainstream, then they will go and look alternatively.”

Māori parents showed a clear advantage in being able to lean on their local community networks for support in looking after each other’s children more than any other ethnic group, emphasising the strength of tikanga Māori (fundamentals) and whanaungatanga (relationships with others).

“The familial nature of Māori culture often means that the value lies in manaakitanga, or generosity in taking care of others, and is an integral part of our identity. It’s a beautiful concept and encourages people to lend a helping hand to others in the community, emphasising that it really does take a village to raise a child,” Wallis said.

He highlighted that the use of technology and screen time ranked as the top parenting concern for the third year in a row (cited by 88%), followed by mental health and managing behavioural issues, which he says are linked.