Samoan kids in the city : the impact of Samoan parenting practices on Samoan children's independent mobility and physical activity : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health at Massey University, SHORE & Whariki Research Centre, Auckland, New Zealand

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
The Author
Physical activity (PA) is vital to the optimal health and development of children and in turn, independent mobility (IM) - outdoor play and travelling to destinations unsupervised - is an essential component of PA for children. There is a growing body of research on the extent to which children’s daily IM and PA are influenced by parents’ experiences and perceptions of streets and public spaces as safe and desirable – or otherwise. However, little is known about Samoan parents’ experiences and perceptions of their social and physical surroundings and the associated impact on their children’s daily IM and PA. Extended families, traditional households and the village-based life of Samoan people are changing. For Samoan people in New Zealand, the transition from a traditional ad hoc and exchange-based way of life to a modern, more formal and cash-based socio-economic reality has seen Samoan parents increasingly living in a ‘rat race’. This modern reality has influenced Samoan parenting practices in New Zealand. This research is nested in and arose from the ‘Kids in the City’ (KITC) research project – a Health Research Council funded study of the independent mobility and physical activity of children, in relation to neighbourhood urban design and neighbourhood perceptions of safety in six Auckland neighbourhoods. The critical realism approach from KITC was used to identify the underlying mechanisms influencing Samoan parents’ parenting practices and children’s IM and PA behaviours. Three methods were used to collect the data: computer assisted telephone interviews (CATI) with parents (n=36); semi-structured interviews with parents (n=14), follow up interviews with parents (n=8), and key informant interviews (n=6); as well as 7-day selfreported travel diaries kept by the children (n=37). Triangulating the data collection methods allowed varied perspectives on the influences of Samoan parenting practices to be gathered, as well as information on how their perceptions of their neighbourhoods were shaped, and how these perceptions then informed their decision-making around their children’s activity behaviours. Key themes that emerged from the findings were: 1) Samoan parenting incorporates Samoan practices with Western practices and the values and beliefs that underpin these; 2) Samoan cultural affiliation impacts on how parents perceive their social and physical surroundings as positive or negative; and 3) parents’ perceptions of their surroundings largely informs where children are allowed to go and not go – unsupervised. The findings make it clear that cultural perceptions influence the decisions Samoan parents make about where they will allow their children go without adult supervision, thereby rendering notions of IM to be of little value. They do not see the value of IM when the developmental benefits of being physically active can be achieved through collective family, church and other activities. Further, Samoan ontology and epistemologies need to be valued and validated in urban planning and design to allow a better understanding of how and why Samoan children interact with their surrounding social and physical neighbourhoods – independently or otherwise.
Child rearing, Samoans, Family relationships, Children, New Zealand, Research Subject Categories::INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH AREAS::Children