Auckland mothers feeling isolated among inner-city living

Elizabeth Busch feels lucky to live in fairly spacious apartment however she knows this is not the case for many other ...
CATRIN OWEN / FAIRFAX NZ

Elizabeth Busch feels lucky to live in fairly spacious apartment however she knows this is not the case for many other families in Auckland.

Wandering the streets daily isn't something usually associated with new mothers.

However a project has found that mothers of under-5s in Auckland are walking the streets because they have fears of being evicted from their apartment buildings. 

A project sponsored by Plunket and SKIP conducted over the last 10 months has found that many mothers living within the 1010 postcode in Auckland are isolated.

There are approximately 1000 under-5s living in the CBD; the Inner City Project looked at the experiences of 22 parents within it.

Arno and Elizabeth Busch want to meet more parents and children in the city.
CATRIN OWEN / FAIRFAX NZ

Arno and Elizabeth Busch want to meet more parents and children in the city.

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Jacqui Arnold led the project team and interviewed 22 parents ranging from the ages of 21 to 36.

Arnold says one of the key findings was there is nowhere to go for parents.

"There are no communal spaces or regulations requiring that and parents don't know each other until a fire alarm goes off in their apartment building.

"I think there are challenges around building a community in the city. If there's nothing available to connect to, how do you connect?" 

Arnold says many young mums will leave their home at 9am every day and walk around the city until 4pm because neighbours complain about crying babies as they live in fear of being evicted.

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"I think parents are nervous, if you're a new mum and you've got a new baby and you're told to keep your baby quiet it's stressful," Arnold says.

MAKING IT WORK

Elizabeth Busch lives in an apartment on Karangahape Rd with her husband and son Arno who is 16 months old.

Originally from the North Shore, Busch has had stints in other big cities around the world including Berlin. She says inner city living in Auckland can be lonely.

Busch's husband works from home which makes it easier on the family.

"It can be very lonely when you have your newborn...and I didn't know that many people and it's tough.

"There are not many spaces that you can go, you're just wandering around the streets with your baby."

However Busch says the Myers Park upgrade is a safe place for Arno to play and has helped her connect with other parents but it's not enough.

"It's very hard to get that social connection easily, but if there was a community centre then we could go and see who's there, that would be lovely."

Busch says she enjoys living in the city as it's close to a lot of amenities and avoids sitting in traffic daily.

COMMUNITY HUB

The project found most of the mother's living in the city are of Asian and Indian descent and 63 per cent were not born in New Zealand.

"They bring ideas and traditions with them and we have to respect that. But regardless of whether you're a migrant or not you will be challenged, there's nothing in the city for under-5s," Arnold says.

"Parenting in the city is hard and when you add language barriers and moving to a new country it adds to the stresses."

Support, isolation and detachment still exist and Arnold is calling for a community hub or space where families can take their children to connect.

"I think the whole thing about having a family hub is providing parents with support and information on parenting, rights and further information."

The Inner City Project has created a website for parents of under-5s to organise meet ups and connect with each other.

For more information go to meetup.com/Parents-of-Under-5s-in-Auckland-City/ to connect.

 - Stuff

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