The highs and lows of sole parenting experienced by wāhine Māori : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Philosophy (Health) at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Wāhine Māori and their experiences of sole parenting is an important field of study although
it is under-examined in the field of research. The topic is common in literature that is related
to political, economic and educational issues of children being raised by a sole parent. An
examination of the experiences of wāhine Māori sole parents is the focus of this study and is
an area with very little academic research.
This research was conducted using a qualitative approach relevant in exploratory research that
focuses on experiences and perceptions of people, in this research wāhine Māori. A kanohi ki
kanohi interview process enabled the voices of the wāhine Māori to be heard, prompting their
detailed lived experiences. Kaupapa Māori, Māori-centred research and a Mana wāhine
approach guided and influenced this research.
The findings from this research showed that wāhine Māori identified the importance of
education, therefore completing academic studies and seeking employment. Essentially they
became role models for their tamariki. A major contribution was the significant supportive role
played by the grandfathers who had fundamentally parented them then went on to manaaki
their mokopuna. Other ‘good men’ had made an impact with the tamariki for example
mentoring them through sporting ventures. A recognition for the wāhine Māori as sole parents
was they were successful in parenting their tamariki for their future growth and development
and therefore strived for the same outcomes as others in society. Finally, these insights provide
the basis for recommendations to improve social services for wāhine Māori and principles to
guide their future development.