Young Ma¯ ori mums are thriv­ing

Hastings Leader - - News -

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.

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