Conversations with Teen Mums


Pregnant at 15


I don’t have these big aspirations to travel the world. That all went down the drain when I found out I was pregnant. After school I just want to be able to take my CV to a full-time job and have them accept me. I want to be a receptionist. That’s what I’ve always wanted to be.

My childhood was real unbalanced cause I was moving continuously. Moving from here, Australia, come back, Australia. I just moved every year. But it was fun, I didn’t take too much into problems. But once my stepdad died when I was about 12, I stopped caring about everyone, stopped caring about everything.

Nobody liked me at school. I used to always get bullied. Everyone wanted to fight me, all the time, every new school I went to. I went to Manurewa High and they wanted to fight me. I went to James Cook and they wanted to fight me. In intermediate, I got stepped out in my second week. I didn’t even know these people.

Then I went out with Junior and it got even worse. Cause you know, he was a cool boy and all the girls knew him. I was the new girl and I got with Junior and everyone hated me. I think that’s what made me not like school. I was just over it. There were all these people that don’t like me. I don’t know why. I just wanted to stay home and be with someone that’s not gonna pick on me.

I found out I was pregnant at 15. I was living with Junior at the time. He’s the same partner I have now. I was having family dramas at home. It got to the point where I didn’t want to go home because I didn’t want to get a growling.

We just thought I was getting fat, because I didn’t have any morning sickness. I was just sitting in bed and my shirt came up. My stomach was hanging out and I said, ‘Look babe’. I had a headache and I heard Junior go down to the lounge and talk to his mum and she asked, ‘What's wrong with her? Is she pregnant?’ So the next day we went to go get a pregnancy test and I was 12 weeks.

My mum was not the first to know. I was more scared to tell my grandfather. My mum just cried and I don’t know why. It might have been because she was the same age as me when she got pregnant. We don’t really have those talking conversations. Because I wasn’t staying at home it was like, ‘Hi mum, I went to the doctor’s and I'm pregnant’, and that was it. And after that I left, and went to continue my life.

I called my grandfather and I was like, ‘I need to talk to you’. He knew straight away. He knew where I was staying. He picked me and my partner up and took us back to his house and was like, ‘Sit down’. It made the whole house quiet. And I was like, ‘I went to the doctor’s yesterday and had a pregnancy test and it’s positive’. That’s all I said.

And he just sat there for a while and he was going to cry, so I said, ‘But I’m keeping it’. And he said, ‘Of course you are. How stupid are you?’ And he just told me what I had to do to get myself together and sort my life out. Make something happen for my baby so my baby’s not coming into a world of nothing. They believe if you got yourself pregnant you have responsibilities now. You can’t just get rid of them.

I wasn’t going to school when I found out I was pregnant. I had stopped going three months before. We had no qualifications so my partner started a course and I went to the teen parent unit.

After I had the baby I stayed at my mum’s. My partner was understanding of that because it was my first baby, his first baby. I lasted a week. My mum has her house rules and because I’d been with him for so long I was used to doing what I want to do. It wasn’t stable, the whole time. It was, ‘I miss my mum, I’m going to stay there. Oh, I’m sick of this’, go back to my partner’s place.

My daughter, she’s so clever. She’s only two but she learns things really fast. She sees a lot. And she remembers everything. I feel shame when I take her out because she says the wrong thing sometimes. Like she swears. It’s just what she sees, what she hears. It’s not that we’re teaching her that stuff but it’s how we are. When we go out and see our family, we can't tell our family what they can and can’t do. It’s just my daughter picks it up. She’s clever though, she knows when to say the things she says. You make her angry and she’s like, ‘Fuck off’.

I don’t want to be the one to make my daughter’s life cause my mum and them tried to make my life and look where that ended. I just want her to be happy and do what she wants.

My family’s from up north. Both our families are. I’m Ngāpuhi and Tainui. I would like my daughter to speak Māori. Whether she wants to or not, that’s up to her. Cause her father grew up in the whole Māori thing, but he was forced to, so he hates it now. Doesn't even want to speak Māori. When I ask him, ‘Can you teach me?’ he’s like, ‘Nah, I did that all my life, I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m over it’. So that’s what made me think, ‘I’m not gonna force Māori upon my daughter. It’s up to her to go find it’. Your children always retaliate when you want them to do something. She can choose what she wants to do, that’s fine.


I’m 21 now. I just work. I’m an office admin in a warehouse. We distribute giftware, home décor all around NZ. We import it from China and India and lots of different places.  It’s probably not what I wanted to do, but it’s happening. I left the teen parent unit cause I just thought money was more important than your dream job. I’m back at my in-laws now. I work all day. I hardly see my daughter. But I get paid, pretty much, and that’s just my life.

I’ve got myself into a lot of financial mess. It started when I discovered the pawn shop. So if I wanted to like go out and have a night with my friends or something I’d just take my phone in and see how much they’d give me for it. Like I got the ‘S5’ and I put it in for $250 and I think you have to pay $300 something to get it out. But I couldn’t get it out.

And then after three months it goes up, and I think you get nine months to get it back, and I didn’t get it back. And now I’m still paying for it. Cause the phone was originally hire purchase, so I’m still paying the phone off but I don’t have it.  And then the phone, you know, the time’s up and the pawn shop sold it on because I can’t pay for it, and then I’ve still gotta pay the hire purchase. That’s growing and growing interest.

I was probably like 16 when I started, getting older people to pawn stuff off for me. And then once I was legal age, I had the ID, I didn’t need other people to do it for me so I’d go do it all myself and then all of a sudden I’d got all these things. I went and got phones, tablets, all the electronic devices, clothes, personal loans, lots of different things. The next year I’ve forgotten to pay it all back, so they’re chasing me for it. And now three years later, interest has just grown and it’s just taken over my life, pretty much.

Now I’ve got to fix it. I work 9 to 5 Monday to Friday for $17 per hour. I have to work all day, not get to see my daughter all week, for nothing pretty much. It just covers my bills now because I’ve worked myself up into a massive mess that I have to try and clean.


My daughter’s five now. She’s so big. And that’s when it hit, like, ‘Shit, I probably seen her maybe three years of the five’. It’s hard because I just don’t see her. I get her ready for school and then I get her ready for bed. And that’s it. It’s sad for her. But we’re dealing with it, cause we’re gonna change, you know? I'm gonna change my job. I’m gonna change how busy I am so I can give her my time. I’ve been too busy trying to give her everything that she can have to make her happy cause I’m not there.

It’s just getting that time to sit with her. For me everything is based around time. There’s never enough time in my day. Just means I have to work harder, so I can give her what she wants, and give her the time and attention she needs.

Me, my partner and daughter all live in one room in a five-bedroom house. She still sleeps in our bed. So we’ve just got to find somewhere for her to sleep that’s not in my bed. But we just make do with what we’ve got.

We’ve got so much people in the house, it’s hard to get my daughter on her own and try to discipline her. She’s still got other people there pottering as well so I can’t tell them what not to do with her, you know? She’s got to follow rules from different people which confuses her. She doesn’t know who’s the main boss. ‘Do I listen to Mum or do I listen to Nan? Or is Aunty the main boss?’ She doesn’t know. Time and money makes the world go round.

My daughter’s in a Maori unit now. She talks fluent Maori. I can’t understand a single word she says. If I don’t know what she’s saying, she’ll find a way of telling me what it is. If she can’t tell me what the words are, she’ll show me, she’ll role-play so I understand. Her dad is fluent Maori so they have that to connect on. It goes to another level when they’re talking in Maori, rather than having an English conversation. I just have to listen. She’s really good though. Now I can see the potential she has in the Maori programme.

I just want to stabilise my family, you know, get myself out of debt. I just want to make sure my family's happy. Give my daughter what she wants, give my man what he wants, give myself what I want.