Help in the Hurunui

Generations of parents have loved living in the Hurunui. They love that their children can play outdoors connecting with nature, they have a sense of belonging and feel safe in a community where people look after each other. Some families have moved to the Hurunui specifically so their children can grow up there.

Hurunui family

The Hurunui is a regional district in North Canterbury that prides itself on being a community of helpers. However, for some recently interviewed parents, the problem is they don’t like to ask for help! Regardless of their age, ethnicity, length of time in the area or whether they have family nearby, many feel like they’re failing by asking for help.

Meeting the changing need

The Hurunui has experienced some rapid changes over recent years. Their migrant and Māori community has grown with numbers of Māori in the region increasing by 35% since 2006.

The trauma that whānau experienced as a result of the November 2016 earthquakes, has also had a significant impact on both the region and the families.

Regional Plunket staff noticed that community supports hadn’t kept up with the changing needs of families. They invited SKIP to join a community co-design process to explore how community support might better meet the current needs, particularly for families with children under 5.

The insights from interviews revealed some mixed views. Parents shared feeling judged, vulnerable or even stigmatised by admitting they felt tired or stressed or needed help. While other viewpoints were there was plenty of help available for those who needed it, but they can’t be bothered asking.

Offering help

The themes of needing help but not wanting to ask for it posed a challenge for the co-design team. A cry for help might be met by joining a parenting group or using a support service.

Parents who had accepted help shared it was because they trusted the person and felt they ‘get me’. They also said it felt more comfortable when helpers used their intiative and rather than ask “would you like me to hang your washing?” they said “I’m going to hang your washing” and just did.

By asking for help parents felt they were admitting to not being good enough but when someone noticed a job needed doing and did it without being prompted, they felt much less judged.

From these insights the community is now working through strategies to make it easier for help to be given and less stigmatising for families to have to ask.