Conversations with Teen Mums


Pregnant at 15


I was 15 when I found out I was pregnant. I was so scared. I just cried for ages. Someone asked me at school if I was pregnant and I said, ‘No’, and they said, ‘Yes, I know pregnant when I see it’. I was like, ‘Why are you even asking me that kind of a question? That’s just weird’. I didn’t believe him. I thought I had control over my own body. I thought it was like a conscious thing. I knew I could get pregnant, but I didn’t think I would. It’s hard to explain what I was thinking at the time.

I went to the doctor’s the next day and I found out I was pregnant and I was like, ‘Oh my god. How did they know before I did?’ It was like a wakeup call. I wasn’t even that big. I was six months when I found out. I was quite far.

I thought I could just go to school and be pregnant and when my waters break just go to the hospital. But it wasn't as easy as that. I was scared to tell my mum. I didn't care about anyone else. Just my mum.

I said, ‘I’m going back to school’, and she said, ‘No you’re not, you’re pregnant’, and I was like, ‘No, I’m not’, and she goes, ‘Yes, you are’, and then it was just normal. It was weird but normal like she’d known the whole time but didn’t say anything. I think she was waiting for me to tell her but I didn’t cause I was too scared. I could just have the baby and not even tell my mum. Awkward.

I thought she was gonna give me a hiding or something but she didn’t. She was quite happy about it. She always used to talk about being a nan.

I thought the newborn stage was the easiest. They always sleep, that was the best part. Sleeping all day, get up for a feed, change their bum, go back to sleep. It was so easy. And then he starts getting older and you’re like, ‘Stop. Don’t do that. Don’t do this. Go get that’. It’s so hard out now.

It didn’t hit me that I was a mum until he was like six months old. Then it hit me that I can’t go out and do all those things. And then it really hit me. It was an emotional time. It was a different feeling being a first time mother.

I was just living in the moment being a mum. I’d go to the gym which was just down the road from my house and Taimana would come with me and be asleep in the pram while I was training. Owen added me on facebook and I accepted him and we started messaging each other. At the time I wasn’t interested at all. Then we started texting and meeting up, it all just happened so fast.

I think I'm the luckiest girl in the world to have someone that wants to be there, already been there through the whole thing. Seen Taimana walk and talk, all those very precious moments.

My mum was around for the first six months. Then she moved to Auckland and I moved in with Owen. We were only together for four months and we ended up moving into a sleepout beside his mum and dad’s place. Like it all happened so fast.

Taimana does put pressure on me and Owen's relationship but at the end of the day, it's only going to be these two people looking after him so you gotta push past that stuff. Owen's pretty helpful. He helps me out. He does the growling. He does all the 'don't do that growls’ and I do the 'moaning growls’.

I live in Kaikohe. People know about Kaikohe and its past. There’s a lot of great things about it but there’s also a lot of bad, like gangs and drugs. I don’t want to be like the other mums I know here. Struggling to make ends meet and not being able to provide for their children. I don’t want to be like that. I want to be different, that’s all. I want to do something with my life and be able to pay for everything. Make a mark. I don’t know where this desire comes from. It just comes from me. Me wanting to be different for my son. I just want to make a change.

I’ve always been the one to say, 'I’m never gonna have kids'. As a teenager watching the other teenagers I was like, ‘I’m never gonna be like that’. But here I am, teenager, two-and-a-half-year-old son. I think it was a wakeup call because I wasn’t a very good student. I was always naughty, not listening, getting into fights. Didn’t like people getting in my way. I was just that sort of a character.

When I was younger I wanted to be in the army or the navy. So yeah, those dreams were shattered when I got pregnant. I don’t want to leave Taimana, so that’s why I haven’t gone back to that dream anymore.

I decided to choose a Bachelor of Social Work because I want to help people and maybe work with other young mums as well. Give them a bit of advice cause of my past experiences.

I think dance is a big part of my life cause the opportunity's there and I see it as something I can do. I don’t really see it as a career. Right now it’s a passion. I love dancing and being able to teach young kids. I see it as a life skill for when I get my Bachelor of Social Work.

I’ve always been the type to get sports awards, but I never got an academic award. This year I returned to school and worked hard to get runner up Dux and a few other academic awards. Guess I saved the best for last. Right at the end. Year 13.

It's easier to understand my own childhood now that I’ve got my baby and how hard it was for my mum. She’s the best Nan. Taimana loves her. I kind of look at it like maybe my mum could’ve done better for us but she did the best she can looking after three teenagers as a single mum. My mum was a hard lady to please. We always got in trouble because we used to pick on each other. She did pretty well. I find it a struggle looking after one kid.

When I grew up we never had much money. But my mum always found a way to pay for my dance classes and school and sport. And I know she was always broke from paying all those things. Everything’s always been paid for just having that extra. That’s why one kid is enough for me.

This is the first time I’ve ever had a car. I had to teach myself how to drive. My mum still doesn’t have a car. Be good to buy her one. I remember we never had transport to get anywhere and my mum having to borrow money off other people.

My dad left when I was 15. He’s never really been around. He was always in and out of jail when I was growing up. He was there for a few years back and forth, never really stable. He's never met Taimana. It doesn’t really bother me anymore.

Having a baby has changed me heaps. I’m kinda matured now, you know, ‘Can’t do this and that’. It’s just being a good role model for my son. To show him I can do it even though I had him young.

Being a mum has changed the way I look at life. I don’t take life for granted. Just take one step at a time.


Last year was a very tough year. I wasn’t where I wanted to be in my life. I was always unhappy. I wanted to move, build a life somewhere else, whereas Owen wanted to stay in Kaikohe. We had just lost a close friend and that was the last straw for our relationship. We had a falling out. And I left. Left him and moved down here to Hamilton with Taimana.

My friends from the Cult dance studio had moved here already, all wanting to have a fresh start and in search of new opportunities. Exactly what I wanted and needed. A fresh start and something new. 

I’d never lived out of Kaikohe. This is my only time I’ve moved away without my family. I knew I couldn’t further myself there. I love my hometown but there was nothing left for me there.

It was more of a way out. A way out of my broken relationship and out of Kaikohe. I was happy I had somewhere to go. I stayed with my good friend Khayla, her parents and couple of my other good friends. I felt I needed to move away. I thought leaving would make Owen wake up a little bit, and think, you know, 'Move down to Hamilton, get a job, fix my relationship and look after my family’. We were both in very different stages in life, he was still figuring out what he wanted to do with his life, drinking a lot and mourning the loss of a very close friend.

It’s always just been me and him. He always did what I wanted to do and followed everything I did, supporting me and Taimana 100%. We met when we were both teenagers and had our own little family with Taimana so we never really did what all our mates were doing. We sort of missed out on a lot of that teenage fun, I guess.

I think I expected too much of him. Like I had high expectations of him, you know? I was quite selfish like that. I knew he didn’t want to do half the things I wanted him to do. He has the biggest heart and is always very apologetic of how things turned out. I appreciate our time together and everything he did for us. I’ll always love him, but that’s just how it is now. Like all relationships ours was not perfect. We live our own lives now and check in on each other now and then for Taimana’s sake.

She was a person I considered my friend. Not a very close friend but a friend. I knew something was going on because me and Owen had planned a lot and he had made promises. He was supposed to move down here with me and we were going to try to fix our relationship. But he didn’t move down and broke a lot of promises. I’d go up there most weekends to see him but I knew something was up.

I wasn’t in the right head space at the time. I was pretending to be happy when deep down I was angry, depressed, overwhelmed with how my life and my relationship had turned out. 

It was a tough time for me finding out he was having a relationship with someone else. I went back to Kaikohe and caused a lot of drama. I beat her up, got myself into trouble with the police. I went to court, all that stuff. I was travelling to Auckland every weekend to drop Taimana off to my mum. Started drinking a lot, going out, clubbing, and didn’t finish Uni. Anything to ease the pain. Everything I planned cut short.

I always thought I was strong, you know? I always thought I could get over things easily, nothing could hurt me, bring me down or make me sad. But this on top of many of the other stupid choices I had made in my life did.

Every day I regretted it. I feel a lot of regret now. But at that time I thought she deserved it. I felt if I took matters into my own hands it would fix everything. That’s what I thought at that time. First time ever going to court, it was a big wake up call for me. The life I had considered myself having before I had Taimana. I felt like it caught up with me.

I got three months home detention. I was so angry. Like I was mad. That whole time on home detention I was mad. Mad at everyone. I hated everyone. I felt sorry for myself. But after that I was just like, 'No, everything happens for a reason'. I’m a strong believer of karma and it hit me hard and I deserved that and more.

I planned out everything I was going to do after I finish, you know? Made me realise who was there for me and who wasn’t. I lost a few friends. Found out who was real and who wasn’t. I’m so grateful to those who stuck around while I was at my worst.

I just finished a rehabilitation course today. Something that I thought would never help me, helped me. I’ve changed a lot of my friends, the people I hang out with. I go to church now. Still studying. Working. Boxing. Changed my whole circle.

Now I know how to deal with things when they make me angry. If I ever come into a situation like that again I’ll know how to deal with it properly. I never wanted to be like that. Young, dumb and stupid, I say. I don’t want to teach my son to be like that. I don’t want him to be like me. I don’t want him to have to go through an experience to learn. I want to teach him, ‘This is what happens when you do this, so don’t do it’.

In my rehabilitation course, I learnt a lot about myself, my emotions, thinking patterns, core beliefs and ways to overcome them. It’s a pretty in-depth programme for offenders. Quite intense, actually. One that I felt really worked for me. I also learnt about ‘Te Whare Tapa Wha’. It has four sections in the house in the Maori health model. So what they taught me was, if one of those is unbalanced, then the whole thing’s unbalanced, you know?  So if you’re not at peace with your family then your whole whare’s just ‘meh’. Then the same goes with your wairua, your emotions, physical well-being, all that sort of stuff. So, pretty much, to have a balanced life all four sections must be equal. I noticed a few gaps when applying it to my own life because I moved away from family, moved down here by myself. I was a bit unbalanced emotion-wise.

I needed to fix myself properly as a person. I had to get over myself fast. I’m quite stubborn so asking for help was never an option.

Taimana’s at school now. He loves it. He’s only been there for two months and he’s moving up classes. He aced a few of their tests that they did. He is so clever. He’s just learnt how to read properly so he’s stoked with himself. He’s cool man. He’s different from me. He’s so sensitive, and kind-hearted and just so different.

I had to think hard about, ‘What do I really love?’ as a career. I changed my mind about social work. Like I know I want to help young people and use my experiences to help, but I don’t think I want to do it in that way. I love sports, so at the moment, I’m studying sports leadership. It’s pretty cool. I love it. We go to the gym every morning and do a bit of coaching on the side. I’m thinking of furthering my studies at Wintec in a couple of years.

Boxing is definitely one of my passions. It’s very challenging not only physically but mentally as well. I love the people I’ve met through this sport. I love the trainings and it keeps me fit. I’m trying to do better and better at it.

I appreciate every day now. I lived it and I learnt. I’m thankful for the Lord, my family and all the new friends I have gained. There were times where I wasn’t 100%, but I’m much happier and content with life right now. I’m just trying to be a better version of myself. If it wasn’t for the experiences I have been through, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today.