New study shows parenting programme for Maori significantly reduces behaviour problems

A culturally-adapted parenting programme for Māori families has increased parents’ confidence, reduced conflict between partners and improved children’s behaviour.

These results followed participation by the families in a four-hour programme. The Ministry of Health funded study was conducted by the University of Auckland and the Ngāti Hine Health Trust in Te Tai Tokerau, one of the largest Māori health providers in the country.

The programme, Te Whānau Pou Toru, was adapted from the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program and ran over two weeks. The United Nations (UN) has rated Triple P as the No. 1 parenting programme in the world based on the extent of research evidence.

Parents took part in two parenting discussion groups where they learnt a variety of positive parenting techniques. Te Whānau Pou Toru encouraged families to share ideas about whānau/parenting and learn from other whānau about how they interact with their tamariki/children.

Gwen Tepania-Palmer, Board Chair of Ngāti Hine Health Trust, said the Trust’s vision to enhance the wellbeing of whānau had been realised for many taking part in the programme.

“Recommendations are currently being considered about how this exciting and valuable project can be integrated into Ngāti Hine Health Trust’s Whānau Ora culture of maximising positive outcomes for whānau,’’ Mrs Tepania-Palmer said.

University of Auckland researchers and members of the Trust are now asking the government to make the programme, and the Triple P population health system, more widely available because of the fit it has with Māori traditions of putting the needs of whānau, extended whānau and iwi/tribe before the individual.

“The population approach is very consistent with this Māori world view and would reduce stigma associated with participation in parenting programmes,’’ a report into the evaluation states.

New resource material which identified Ngāti Hine values and aligned them with parenting principles from the programme was created for the cultural adaptation of the Triple P discussion groups.  These values included autonomy and self-management, of being healthy, nurturing and engaged with the environment.

Six months after programme completion, parents reported significantly fewer child behaviour problems and less conflict with their partner about child rearing, as well as more confidence and greater use of positive parenting practices.  

Dr Louise Keown, of the University of Auckland’s Parenting Research Group, said the Ngāti Hine partnership showed the way for cultural adaptation of a ‘light touch’ parenting programme for Māori.  

She said the study builds on a strong New Zealand evidence base of seven randomised control trials of the Triple P Program conducted by the University of Auckland.

Note: The Triple P – Positive Parenting Program was first developed by Professor Matt Sanders at The University of Queensland. The Triple P population health system provides a way to combine light-touch preventative programmes, for families with minor issues or who would like to know more about parenting strategies, with more intensive treatment  programme for parents whose children may be at greater risk of poorer lifelong health, social and economic outcomes across the life course.