Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Budget 2014: Extended leave step in right direction: mother

Catherine Nola and Son Anton doctor visits are the vote winner.
Catherine Nola and Son Anton doctor visits are the vote winner.

Auckland mother Catherine Nola feels extending paid parental leave to 18 weeks is a step in the right direction, but says 26 weeks would have been better.

Ms Nola, 37, mother of a 3-year-old boy and expecting her second, said she could not imagine leaving her baby at four months.

"I don't think there is an ideal time for a mother to leave - the longer I can stay home with my baby the better - but I'll take what's available. Hopefully it's an incremental step towards longer support for parents."

Ms Nola was employed as a contractor when she became pregnant, and when her son was born she was able to stay with him until he was 7 months old.

Then, she had been on the benefit and had received a parental tax credit but said it "disappeared very quickly".

"Yes, the extra money was helpful but not particularly impactful, because what we got was less than half what our rent was," she said. "So I was really pleased to see that raised."

Ms Nola's partner is an arts freelancer who does mainly contract work, and does not have a regular income.

She had not discussed with him how the changes would affect their lives. But she said the more compelling vote-winning change for her was the extension of free doctors visits and prescriptions for children to age 13.

"I take full advantage of that with my son, and I don't hesitate to take him to the doctor if I am even remotely concerned," she said.

"It's a real comfort to know I can continue to do that until he is much older."

- NZ Herald

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