Tommy Wilson: Lonely life for too many mums

By Tommy Wilson

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Too many New Zealand children are raised without a loving and supportive whanau.
Too many New Zealand children are raised without a loving and supportive whanau.

If you ever want to see faces of pure joy gathered in one room, then where I was over the weekend was surely it.

No it was not at a church or a temple, nor was it in a winning Warriors' or All Blacks' changing room.

It was in the maternity ward of our local hospital as we gathered around our girl who had just given birth to a beautiful baby boy.

Friends and whanau had come from down the road and across the country to offer their awhi (help) and, as I looked in from outside the room, I could not help but think how gifted and fortunate this new arrival is to have such support from day one of his new life.

There were literally carloads and we did it in shifts, so as not to place too big a strain on the newborn, his mum or the other soon-to-be new mothers, some of whom were there under very different circumstances.

Yet, on the same night we were celebrating no doubt there would have been young, about-to-be mums around the country sitting all alone in maternity wards with frightened looks on their faces.

Is it fear of having the baby or fear of what happens once the baby is born?

What are they thinking when they can see and hear the pure faces of joy around them, and how did they end up there in the first place with no whanau support? Too often it is yet another lonely young girl who went looking for love in all the wrong places, and where she and her baby end up is what we are waking up to as a society looking for answers.

Sometime soon we need to put our frontline social services troops into the maternity annexes and emergency out-patient wards of our hospitals, so any cries for help can be heard by mothers who know their babies are not and will not be safe in the whare they are being raised in.

Because right now, right next door or across the road from where we live, children and women are being beaten and abused by men who have no idea what fatherhood is all about.

And today, like many Mondays (which we call sunglasses Mondays), mothers will present themselves with black eyes and all they can do to hide the shame is try and cover it up with a pair of sunnies bought from the $2 shop.

On the plus side, if there is one, at our frontline we don't see mothers who have whanau support or who are connected to their church or marae. Nor do we see those who are connected to strong sporting families.

Therein are the solutions and, like it or not, the Bishop Brian Tamaki does turn these hopeless and helpless around for a lot less than it costs to put them in prisons or hospitals, so all power to Destiny Church if they can deliver safe homes and loving parents.

What happened and where did we go wrong as a society, a community or a whanau to allow this to happen in a land that has so much, when out there is a world with so little yet they do not allow their children and mothers to suffer like we do?

Are we really becoming the land of the long line of bashed and abused?

Sadly we are. Perhaps the fact that 305,000 children live in poverty has something, or everything, to do with it. Perhaps the fact that 42,000 children who are admitted to hospital every year come from the same sector of our society, and we as a country should be hanging our heads in shame over these appalling statistics.

Sure, we need an updated navy to protect our fisheries and we do need to protect our neighbours who cannot protect themselves, but surely we need to protect our own kids and declare war on poverty.

There has to be an attitudinal change and it starts by having courageous conversations by communities who care.

No, we cannot turn off the tap of fatherless children who have gone back to getting a new set of abs courtesy of Corrections, and no we can't point the bone of blame at ethnicity.

But we can turn on the fountain of whanau and family aroha to wrap around these lost and lonely mothers sitting silently in emergency and maternity wards, who, like any newly born baby, deserve a life full of love.


- Tommy Wilson is a Tauranga author and writer.

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