Young mums on big screen

Doco shows life of young Southland parents

LAUREN HAYES
Last updated 15:53 03/12/2012
Young parents doco
LAUREN HAYES/Fairfax NZ

Murihiku Young Parents’ Learning Centre film-makers Bernice Hollands, 18, left, and Rikkilee Tuffley, 19, right, chat with Te Paparahi manager Tina McColgan, centre, after the premiere of their teen parenting DVD yesterday.

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A group of young mothers have hit the big screen to reveal what life is really like as a teen parent.

Te Paparahi, a documentary launched this afternoon by Murihiku Young Parents' Learning Centre pupils, presents the experiences of young Southland parents from pregnancy tests to life as caregivers, and will be used to show teenagers the realities of parenting.

There were no graphic hospital scenes, but the film did feature moving stories about the social stigma of being a teen parent, pregnancy body changes and the experience of giving birth, project manager Tina McColgan said.

''Some of it is really, really raw. It's a realistic view of what it's like to get pregnant as a teenager in New Zealand.

''(It's) a bit of a reality check for young girls.''

The idea to make a documentary came about after pupils at the learning centre were asked to describe the teen parent experience at Southland Girls' High last year, she said.

''It was so successful ... we decided that, instead of just limiting it to one school, why not put all our experiences on a DVD?''

Stories from all learning centre parents were collected for the project, although only four mothers appear on screen.

Before beginning work on the DVD, Mrs McColgan consulted members of the ethics department at the University of Otago and held a number of workshops to work through the complexities of the project.

The finished product was originally intended to be distributed to all secondary schools in Southland, but the film-makers were now looking further afield.

''We've actually had interest from schools all over New Zealand so we're not limiting it to Southland.''

Pupil Rikkilee Tuffley, 19, was one of the young mothers who featured in the documentary and said she was initially nervous about appearing on screen.

''I was having second guesses about it. Anybody could see this and you don't know what they're going to be like.''

However, the positive reaction to the documentary at the premiere today calmed her doubts.

''My mum cried twice.

''I felt like it meant something, you know, other than just our lives.''

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- The Southland Times

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