National | Hapū (pregnant)

Hapū Māori and Pacific teens at risk of 'falling through the cracks'

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A kaupapa Māori organisation is concerned teenage Māori and Pacific māmā may miss out on much-needed support because too much emphasis is being placed on statistics showing teenage birth rates have halved in the last decade.

E Tipu E Rea Whānau Services in Tāmaki Makaurau says a 'deeper dig' into the statistics is required because factors such as ethnicity paint a different picture.

"(We) would like to highlight that Māori and Pacific māmā are still disproportionately represented in this statistic. It is imperative that our statistics are viewed with an intersectional lens to ensure that we are still providing tautoko to those who need it most," the whānau-based health and social support provider says.

"There are many intersectional factors to consider when we look at the teenage pregnancy rates and one of them is ethnicity. While the rates have decreased considerably and this is positive, we still see the number of Māori and Pacific māmā who are hapū is higher than non-Māori."

E Tipu E Rea Whānau Services CEO Zoe Hawke says the danger is that Māori and Pacific teens will "slip through the cracks".

"We need to be digging deeper into the stats because we must ensure the tautoko is there for young Māori and Pacific parents.

"Alongside this, we must be able to resource our young whānau appropriately so we can ensure the best long-term health outcomes for whānau and not let them slip through the cracks because we are patting ourselves on the back for decreasing statistical numbers.

"When we consider other health outcomes, such as maternal mental health and suicide for young Māori māmā, we can see the dire need for the continual tautoko of our social services and healthcare systems," Hawke says.

The organisation says teenage māmā require lots of support.

"Not only are teenage māmā isolated but they are discriminated against in all parts of their lives including institutionally.

"We hope that with the sharing of these new statistics which are positive, we do not forget that there were still over a thousand teenagers who were hapū last year and became māmā and require our tautoko, the majority of whom were Māori and Pacific."