Young Ma¯ ori mums are thriving
An EIT post-graduate nursing lecturer is challenging the health care system totrain more Ma¯ ori health professionals, and greater Ma¯ ori understanding and application across all health disciplines.
Aria Graham has recently finished her PhD and believes there needs to be greater cultural competence and application of Ma¯ oritanga [culture and traditions] to improve health outcomes for Ma¯ ori.
Aria’s research used a kaupapa Ma¯ ori analytical framework Haaro te Kaahu. Her study explored young Ma¯ ori mothers’ experiences at the birth of their first child. She interviewed young women in urban and rural Hawke’s Bay, across a broad demographic.
Her research indicated there is a contrast between what young Ma¯ ori mothers value and what society imposes.
It is also necessary for the Ma¯ ori community to have more ability to exercise their needs as the ‘experts’ of their wellbeing, based on their diverse realities, she says.
Her key finding was that young Ma¯ ori mothers who have the support and influence of significant women are thriving. This was at odds with the prevailing negative societal view of these young women, she says.
“Young Ma¯ ori mothers face adversity and challenges but in the reality of their own contexts, the women I interviewed flourish with the right support.
“They face intense stigma that they’re not connected to the needs of their babies, and lots of other negative notions. But it’s just not the case. Understanding their experience and what matters to them, with the right support in place and complementing their needs with love and compassion, they’re achieving great results.
“Key to this is for us as health professionals, to recognise and acknowledge the value of having their mothers and other significant women in their lives.
“This connection to their wha¯ nau and whakapapa brings stability, guidance and empowerment. They benefit from observing, modelling and from the supervision of reliable and consistent trusted women,” says Aria.
“Where support does not exist, we need to create initiatives to supplement and reproduce these highly effective and culturally appropriate systems.” Initiatives must be designed and led by Ma¯ ori women.
“It’s vitally important that we have more investment into the wellbeing of ma¯ma¯ Ma¯ori, particularly in light of the forecasted growth in Ma¯ ori birthing rates.”
Aria is advocating more investment into the wellbeing of Ma¯ ori mothers through educating more Ma¯ ori nurses, doctors, midwives and health professionals with a strong kaupapa Ma¯ ori foundation.
“Being equipped to look through a Ma¯ ori lens is paramount if we want to develop wha¯ nau wellbeing and sustainability,” she says.
Aria works with the EIT School of Nursing.
“We want our school and nurses to have the support, encouragement and tools to experience the normalisation of ‘things Ma¯ ori’, and be culturally competent when working with families from all cultures.”
Aria Graham with first-time mum Alieta Tomoana and her 9-monthold son Neo Waiariki Boyd.