Tika Tonu: Young Māori Mothers' Experiences of Wellbeing Surrounding the Birth of their First Tamaiti
The wellbeing experiences of young Māori mothers’ (ngā māmā) surrounding the birth of their first tamaiti and the impact of those experiences, often determine outcomes for wāhine Māori, their tamariki and whānau. A greater understanding and nurturing of young Māori mothers has far reaching implications that encompass hapū, iwi, community, Aotearoa and the health experiences and outcomes of Indigenous and other subjugated people in the global community. However, there is little exploration and information about the wellbeing experiences of young Māori mothers, and therefore little is known about their stories, thoughts, and feelings from their experiences. This thesis explores the experiences of young Māori mothers from their perspective, regarding pregnancy, birth and motherhood. Historical misrepresentation, western notions of gender and sexuality, negative statistics and reports have portrayed young Māori mothers as the least capable, least desired and deficient. Dominant western ideologies of motherhood and hegemonic perceptions fail to recognise the essence of wellbeing for young Māori mothers, and instead marginalise and render their aspirations invisible and irrelevant. This thesis brings to the fore the elements that ngā māmā signal as vital to their wellbeing. By utilising a kaupapa Māori approach to methodology, and a theoretical framework of kaupapa Māori and mana wahine, this thesis explores what matters to ngā māmā and their wellbeing, and how te ao Māori is an intrinsic part of those experiences. An integrated kaupapa Māori analytical framework is presented, which was developed for the thesis as a legitimate and authentic approach to research method and design to help make sense of and assemble the codes, symbolism and themes of the data. The findings of this thesis signify the power of the female to influence the wellbeing of ngā māmā through stability, guidance and empowerment. The thesis captures the tamaiti as ‘tohu aroha’, and explicates the journey of ngā māmā to greater rangatiratanga and identity. Furthermore, the vitality and balance of te ao Māori within the lives of ngā māmā contributes to what is significant to their experiences of wellbeing. The thesis emancipates ngā māmā from entrenched stereotypes by epitomising their experiences and thus denouncing deficit discourses, and advances the aspirations of ngā māmā and the lives of their tamariki and whānau. This thesis makes an original and complementary contribution to the growing knowledge around Māori maternal wellbeing, kaupapa Māori methodology and research.