'Children First': The Motherhood of Man Movement and single motherhood in 1940s and 1950s New Zealand
In New Zealand, moral and religious influences have long painted single mothers as unscrupulous threats to the sexual and societal status quo. In the 1950s, a formative era for the development of women’s reproductive and sexual rights, organisations like the Motherhood of Man began to confront this long-standing image of single mothers as fallen women in need of redemption. The Motherhood of Man Movement challenged the fear-based sexual education model, which gave little practical knowledge about how to avoid pregnancy, and instead attempted to provide care for single mothers in need, without the often-oppressive philosophy of church-run homes.
Inadvertently, the Movement also highlighted New Zealand’s ill equipped adoption policies through its own misdemeanours. A 1953 incident allegedly saw the President of the Motherhood of Man Movement abuse her authority as a caregiver, coerce women to give up their babies and on-sell these babies to desperate adoptive parents, and avoid proper adoption procedures all together. Not only did this spark public outrage, but it also contributed to the introduction of the Adoption Act of 1955 which tightened adoption laws in New Zealand. This particular issue in the Motherhood of Man’s history provides an opportunity to explore the developments and shortcomings of this formative era, which gave reformers a basis to construct better models for the care of single mothers in future decades.
Other articles in this volume
A large collection of artefacts and faunal material recovered 60 years ago from an excavation on the island of Motutapu, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand is described for the first time. The occupation site primarily functioned as an adze manufactory using a nearby source of indurated greywacke.Read more
The 1955-56 excavation of Matakawau, a pā (fortified site) on the western side of Ahuahu Great Mercury Island, is described. A terrace low on the slope above the natural cliff defences contained five storage pits, dug at different times, and some with multi-period use. The terrace seems to have been used exclusively for storage, with unusual drainage features not reported elsewhere.Read more
The recent examination of textiles collected from dry caves and rock-shelters in Te Wao Nui a Tiriwa (the Waitakere Ranges), and held at Auckland Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira revealed an assortment of woven, twined, twisted and plaited fragments.Read more
The Marine Department of Auckland War Memorial Museum has nearly 1800 primary types and a further 1811 paratypes and paralectotypes types in its collections. The majority are molluscan and this second part of a catalogue of these collections reviews the types for 14 chiton and two scaphopod species.Read more