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The present research sought to better understand the barriers, facilitators, attitudes and beliefs that influence the way Māori and Samoan grandparents feed their grandchildren in a deprived urban neighbourhood in New Zealand.
The research adopted a qualitative methodology that was consistent with a Kaupapa Māori research approach. Seven semi-structured interviews were conducted with grandparents to collect narrative data.
Sampling occurred in one Auckland suburb. The suburb was selected because of its high level of socio-economic deprivation and ethnic diversity.
Seven grandparents participated in the study (five Māori and two Samoan). Each participant met the inclusion criteria (i.e. they had provided at least five meals per week over the previous three months to grandchildren aged less than 24 months). Marae (i.e. meeting houses and areas used by local Māori tribes/sub-tribes) and community organisations were used to recruit participants.
A general inductive thematic analysis identified four key themes: (i) grandparents’ understanding of optimal feeding practices; (ii) economic and material factors; (iii) previous experiences and customary norms; and (iv) social support and societal pressure.
The study showed that grandparents’ complementary feeding practices in caring for infant grandchildren were influenced by upstream structural elements such as government policies related to welfare and pensions, employment, income and cultural knowledge. Frameworks that seek to achieve social justice and support cultural practices should be employed and promoted in the development of future policy and research in this area.
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