keisha castle-hughes is now a mother! & more on teen pregnancy

There was a post over at the main blog about Keisha Castle-Hughes’ now being a mother!  I talked briefly about the issue in a previous post in which I wondered what ramifications this would have on ‘girl power’ and young girls who look up to either Castle-Hughes or her character in Whale Rider.

keisha castle-hughes, mother, actress

The post on the main blog brings up how teen pregnancy is usually brought up in the media, though–as a ‘problem’ in poor Black & Latino communities.  So far I haven’t addressed race on this blog, and I think this is a grey issue that relates to some of the other themes of cultural studies.  Obviously, we don’t want babies to be born into the world unwanted.  So why not celebrate pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood?  However, there’s also the fact that a lot of these babies are born into poverty, and that possibly if the parents had received the same opportunities that people in wealthier communities receive–namely, access to the same standard of education and being put on the track to college–they wouldn’t have had the babies.  It’s that question again–can you really be empowered when your options are limited by society?  In the case of the ‘problem’ of teen pregnancy, it definitely seems good that people try to create their own narratives within the system by celebrating pregnancy and making it something worthwhile, even if it’s just for lack of a better option.

The case of Keisha Castle-Hughes, though, is a strange one.  It’s like the reason the mainstream media can celebrate it without decrying her for being so young is BECAUSE of her extreme fame and wealth.  And although she played a Maori character in Whale Rider, and the Maori are traditionally underserved in New Zealand much as the Black & Latino communities are in the U.S., she is half-Maori and half-white, and therefore seems to pass as white in the media.  This is sort of tangential, but I wonder if that had anything to do with getting her the lead role in Whale Rider

But yeah, racial issues among tweens are very important and will be looked at in upcoming posts.

10 responses to “keisha castle-hughes is now a mother! & more on teen pregnancy

  1. “traditionally underserved in New Zealand much as the Black & Latino communities are in the U.S.”
    They weren’t kept as slaves and there wasn’t any segregation. They have been able to vote for as long as there has been real democracy and have had better than equal access to health and education services. I don’t know what you mean by underserved.

    ” she is half-Maori and half-white, and therefore seems to pass as white in the media. ”
    She’s probably actually 3/4ths to 7/8ths European. Half-Maori people were becoming rare even 30 years ago.

    “This is sort of tangential, but I wonder if that had anything to do with getting her the lead role in Whale Rider…”
    Unlikely, as there are probably fewer than 100 full-blooded Maoris left. All the other ~600 thousand people with some Maori descent are also of European descent, typically 7/8ths European. It is not like the US where mixed marrages were/are rare, as right from the start in the 19th century interracial marrage was commonplace. The Maori people were very dark; someone like Keisha looks far more European than what full-blooded Maoris looked like. Everyone of Maori descent in New Zealand has European relatives, and nearly everybody of European descent in the North Island has Maori relatives.

  2. Thank you for correcting me on her background, and about the level of mixing in New Zealand. Do you have any statistics about this?

    What I mean by ‘underserved’ is that the Maori population doesn’t have equal access to health and education services, contrary to what you’ve said. I’m not sure how true this is now, but it has been true on the past. But if New Zealand is working towards changing that, that’s very good. But it seems like the Maori are still disproportionately represented in jails ( When you have statistics like that, it’s a sign that there has been institutionalized racism in a country for a while, and that would make that population both discriminated against and ‘underserved.’

  3. The Maori encoutner a lot of racism in New Zealand stll. I disagree with the comment about the voting. So what if Maori’s were allowed to vote. They were discriminated in terms of access to education and housing. And Keisha’s mother is Maori. Did you know the mother JUST had a child herself! In the Maori community the problem with teen pregnancy in New Zealand is a big issue. In fact, New Zealand has the THIRD biggest teen pregnancy rate in the Western Word

  4. Get over teen pregnancy, age isn’t everything. There’s crap older parents out there too, and good teen parents.
    If you can’t imagine yourself having being a teen parent, maybe that’s why you weren’t. Just a thought

  5. Skipper Jones

    Where is New Zeland? Is it near New England?

  6. I taught high school in New York City. The worst kids were usually the result of teenage pregnancy. It’s an equal problem for both Black, White, and Latino families.
    I taught all kinds of kids, and I saw teenage pregnancy always lead to disaster.

  7. woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

  8. Maori are definitely not underserved. I’m only 1/16 Maori, of the Ngapuhi tribe, but this 1/16 gives me access to a number of opportunities that would not be available to me if I were 100% European, including prioritorial entry to medical school, additional tutorials and academic assistance, and a large number of scholarships! Nowadays, Maori in fact have greater access to education services in NZ than Europeans:

  9. think she’s a great actor and we shouldn’t judge her on her age. she’s done a wonderful job so far with her child

  10. This lady has a mother who is part Maori- she is of mixed blood. Her mother is not full Maori. Maori have Melanesian in them, that is Pacific blood and Polynesian blood because they overtook Pacific tribes. Maori are said to come from East Polynesia the same as Native Hawaiians and Easter Island people. Maori are naturally mixed with Scottish/Irish/English ancestor- to say Maori is not identifying their true ethnic origins exactly. I am part aboriginal and part European and claim both, not deny one. I am actually very proud to be of aboriginal and European ancestry- I do not claim one over the other. I would rather be of mixed blood because then I have the best of both worlds and my own autonomy.

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