A Journey of Interethnic Mothering in Aotearoa

Image of Lucia Davis with her family

Interethnic Mothering is a topic dear to my heart academically and personally. My recently submitted Doctorial (PhD) thesis on this topic records experiences of migrant mothers in New Zealand and reveals interesting insights into their joys and challenges of parenting in an interethnic relationship.

I was born in Romania and came to New Zealand in my twenties in 2003. Here, I met this exotic looking Māori who charmed me with his beautiful stories of the land. We married and, soon after, we started our parenting journey together. In interethnic relationships, you have to negotiate everything, from how to do the dishes to how to raise children. In 2008, I had the chance to attend the Ethnic Women Leadership Workshop, organised by the Office of Ethnic Communities. The workshop was life-changing: I met wonderful ethnic women with whom I still share my migration journey. It was at that workshop that I met my supervisor to be, Professor Marilyn Waring; she, like many other inspiring women leaders, was invited by the Office’s wonderful staff to guide our leadership journey over the next years.

I currently work for Auckland Council in the Arts, Community and Events department. My role is to empower communities to fulfil their aspirations. An empowered community is one where individuals, whanau [extended family] and communities have the power and ability to influence decisions, take action and make change happen in their lives and communities. This work is a great fit with my volunteering role for the Romanian Community in Auckland. While the Romanian community is not a large one (the last Census recorded 1,455 Romanians in New Zealand), it is very active. In Auckland alone we have a church, a drama group, a seniors’ club, a dance group and a radio broadcast. Every year we organise a Romanian children’s camp. In 2004, I joined Planet FM Access Radio to present Romanie, Plai de Dor the Romanian Radio Broadcast, which grew from half an hour fortnightly to an hour weekly, and to a team of six broadcasters – all enthusiastic community volunteers. One of my highlights is being part of the Romanian team who translated the Treaty of Waitangi into Romanian. Now my children can read the Treaty in all the three languages they grew up with: Māori, English and Romanian.

I remember my fears as a migrant in a new country, of not fitting into the mainstream, of having to limit my dreams. Those fears were quickly forgotten as colleagues and neighbours made efforts to pronounce my name properly, enjoy the food I cooked and praise a traditional clothing item I wore. I was also able to appreciate how their distinctive cultures contribute to a beautifully diverse New Zealand.

You can read Lucia Davis' thesis from here.