Journal of Professional Nursing

Nga tukitanga mai koka ki tona ira: Maori mothers and child to mother violence

Ripekapaia Gloria Ryan, RN, MN, Ngati Porou, Te Whanau Apanui, Ngati Ireland
Denise Wilson, RN, PhD, FCNA(NZ), Tainui Awhiro, Ngati Tahinga, Associate Professor – Māori Health/Director of Taupua Waiora Centre for Māori Health Research, AUT University, Auckland

Reference:  Ryan, R. G., & Wilson, D. (2010). Nga tukitanga mai koka ki tona ira: Maori mothers and child to mother violence. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 26(3), 25-35.


In common with other indigenous women Māori mothers risk illness, harm, and possible death when abused and intimidated by their children. Yet women suffering child to mother violence are silenced by their fear and shame, and endeavour to minimise the effects of this form of abuse. A qualitative descriptive research design using kaupapa Māori methodology was adopted to explore the experiences of Māori mothers who had been abused by a son or daughter. During semi-structured interviews with five Māori women experiences of abuse by a child, and its impact on the whānau/ family were recorded. Interview transcripts were analysed thematically, and three key themes emerged: behind closed doors, my child and a new journey. These Māori mothers carried the secret of the violence alone; keeping it behind closed doors while paradoxically protecting their abusive child. Nonetheless, these mothers reached a point where they chose to undertake a new journey, one that involved telling their story, reconnecting with their indigenous roots, and engaging in healing activities. The mothers’ experiences highlight a lack of support and responsiveness by support and health agencies. Regardless of these negative experiences with support agencies, we highlight the important role nurses have in facilitating whānau ora (family wellbeing) for these women. This research contributes an indigenous perspective to the growing literature on child to mother violence, and provides direction for future research.

Indigenous women, Māori mothers, child to mother violence, kaupapa Māori, support agencies

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