Fonteyn Moses-Te Kani, 47, is Head of Strategic Relationships for Māori and Iwi at Westpac. She and her wife, Gena, live between Auckland and Hamilton and have five children and three mokopuna between them.
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I love my kids. They’re my passion and my heart and my sorrow. Being involved with a person and saying, ‘You’re the love of my life, my soul mate,’ why do we not put that same amount of passion in our relationships with our kids? It’s like, ‘Actually, I choose you.’ I am always building my relationships with them, ‘How do I connect with you?’ So you get into all these different things that the kids like and they introduce you to groups of people you never thought you’d meet.
I’m from a country background, very conservative, my community was mainly whānau and the marae, and Gena comes from a city background, raised by her mum and tight with her brothers so we’ve got these two different ways of approaching things and then we’ve got these children in the middle. My daughter said, ‘I want to play the violin.’ You go to the classes and you’re sitting there – you’ve got to get past the screech – and I’m saying to my daughter, ‘Okay, cool, you really want this, you sure you want to carry on?’
You meet different types of people. And they’re looking at you thinking, ‘You’re not really our type.' No? But my child is. Birthday parties are the same. My moko is blonde and blue-eyed. Most of his friends are blonde and blue-eyed. So, we turn up and say, ‘Hi, I’m the nana.' Then they look at my wife, she has a moko kauae and they’re like, ‘And you’re a nana, too?’ And they’re looking at us going, ‘What else you got?’ The thing I love about children is that they have no barriers, it’s just, ‘I like you.' Or, ‘I don’t,’ based on if you will play with me or not.
One of the hardest things for me is knowing how to change as they grow. As a mum I want to protect them and equip them for the world. So how do I help them to know what skills they need so that they can reach that point of, you’re an independent being who can make decisions and be OK. And when the world throws something at you, you’re resilient enough to go, ‘I’m good, Mum.’
As a parent, I want them to have the confidence to explore the world and everything in it. We are their bastion. When things get rough, bring your ship into shore and take some time out. Let us give that to you and then go out again and be a voyager.
As told to Felicity Monk.
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