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Ed Sheeran

Bad research puts stigma on Maori marriage

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A member of Te Kahui Mana Ririki, which works towards eliminating violence against children, says a conservative lobby group has got its research on the links between child poverty and marriage back to front.

Family First claims child poverty has risen as marriage rates have gone down, and it drew particular attention to the fact just 21 percent of Maori babies were born to married parents, compared with 72 percent in 1968.

Hirini Kaa, who is also researching Maori parenting, says it’s difficult to maintain relationships in the face of poverty.

He says Family First also fails to appreciate how Maori marriage has changed from the 1960s, when more families lived in extended whanau where the whole community helped raise children.

"Since then of course government policy pushed us and pulled us into the cities, effectively broke up these support structures that we had for our whanau. Marriage nowadays looks very different from what it use to because even if you are married you're going to be living in that little nuclear family situation which lacks the support structures that Maori and always based whanau on and raised children together. It wasn't just mummy and daddy raising the children," he says.

Hirini Kaa says child poverty is about government policy and how it treats people in need rather than whether people are married.


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