Political journalist Maiki Sherman introduces baby no. 6 Onoaio

The political journalist’s busy household is full of love and happiness

Being a mum gets better with every baby,” says political journalist and māmā-of-six Maiki Sherman, sitting down to chat during a rare moment of peace at her Wellington home.

It’s 9am on a Tuesday and Maiki and her partner Anaru MacDougall’s newest love, six-month-old Onoaio Eve, is asleep in her cot, with big siblings Hemaima-te-wai, 13, Kahikatea, 10, Mihipaea Te Tonga, six, Rangitukehu, five, and Turei Heke, three, all safely dropped at their kura and kōhanga reo.

“It’s not often this quiet in our house,” laughs Maiki, who is deputy political editor for 1 News. “But I love our big whānau. Our house is busy, but it’s full of love and happiness. And the beautiful thing about each baby is it gets easier. There is no anxiety… You become a master, you know what you’re doing and you can just enjoy it.”

With her six months maternity leave ending this month, Maiki, 35, is relishing her final weeks at home with her tamariki. It’s the longest period of leave she’s taken since the birth of her first child and Maiki has loved every second spent with Onoaio, who was born on 6 December, the same date as her brother Turei Heke.

Maiki laughs as she recalls Onoaio’s arrival, telling us she’d spent the day rushing around preparing for her little boy’s third birthday celebrations. A quick midwife visit revealed she was 6cm dilated, yet she had hardly noticed any contractions!

“I was four days past my due date, but I was in full-on birthday mode, so I think I was too busy to realise what was happening,” she smiles. After celebrating with pizza and cake with whānau, her contractions really made themselves known. But instead of rushing to the hospital, the dedicated student, who is studying towards a Bachelor of Mātauranga Māori (Māori Knowledge), logged on to her two-hour online class.

“I didn’t want to miss it! But I had to turn the camera off and lie down at one point because the contractions were getting a bit intense.”

It was after her class at 8.30pm that Maiki phoned her midwife to say she and Anaru, a scaffolder, would head to the hospital. Within minutes of being ushered into a room, their healthy baby girl was born into her dad’s hands at 9.20pm.

“We’d only just arrived, so it was only me and Anaru in the delivery room when baby’s head and shoulders came out! The good thing about having done this so many times was I wasn’t worried at all. I knew the pain and I knew what to do. I said to Anaru, ‘Hold, hold, don’t pull her, wait for the next contraction!’ and that’s what he did.

“We called for a nurse, who looked a bit shocked when she walked in, but one more push and she was out. Anaru and I were shaking with relief and delight.”

Maiki and Anaru have their hands full but reckon their brood might not be done yet!

While she’d experienced birth five times before, Maiki says the “pure elation” was still overwhelming.

“It’s that rush of emotion and love. You look into your baby’s eyes – that baby who you’ve been talking to and singing to in your puku for so long – and they’re finally in your arms.”

Maiki came up with her daughter’s name herself. Ono means six in Māori and aio means serene and placid. Io is the supreme god.

“It felt right to incorporate ono in her name because she’s the sixth child born on the sixth day of the sixth month in the Māori lunar calendar,” explains Maiki. Onoaio’s middle name, Eve, is Maiki’s Rotorua-based mother’s name.

Onoaio Eve MacDougall

Born 6 December 2022

Weight 3.5kg

Just three hours after giving birth, Maiki and Anaru, 41, were back home, tucked up in bed with their new baby.

The next morning, her big siblings were thrilled to meet the newest arrival.

“That’s always such a special moment when they meet the new baby,” enthuses Maiki, adding that Onoaio has been welcomed with open arms.

“They love her to bits. Sometimes the younger ones get a bit too obsessed and I have to remind them to give her a bit of space.”

Baby Onoaio with her doting siblings (from left) Turei Heke, Mihipaea Te Tonga, Hemaima-te-wai, Kahikatea and Rangitukehu.

And Onoaio has lived up to her name – she’s a placid and happy baby. “She’s super- smiley and she’s really clever,” says her proud mum. “She’s grabbing for things and having little taste tests of everything she gets her hands on.”

While life with six children is undeniably busy, Maiki credits Anaru’s incredible parents, Hope and Len, for helping the whānau function so well. The devoted grandparents, who live nearby, arrive every morning to help get the kids up and out the door, and are there again after school.

“Our house runs like a well-oiled machine,” tells Maiki, who carts her brood around in a 10-seater van. “But a huge part of that is because we have Nanny and Koro. They are the cornerstone of our family and we’re lucky because Anaru is an only child, so we have them all to ourselves. Anaru goes to work before the rest of us are up, but Nan does the lunchboxes, Koro is on breakfast, and I get everyone dressed and ready. The routine is set.”

And when Maiki, of Ngāpuhi and Te Whakatōhea descent, returns to work at TVNZ this month, it’s likely Koro will take care of baby Onoaio, just as he has with her older siblings. Maiki says she and Anaru

were raised closely with their grandparents and it’s something she’ll always be grateful for.

“A lot of whānau Māori live in this way, so for many it’s a natural extension of how we raise our families and is key to building a thriving environment. It also means I never feel guilty when I’m travelling or at work late because I know my children have a solid and loving support system around them.”

Maiki says Parliament has become more family-friendly in the 10 years she’s worked there. A dedicated family room, space to pump breastmilk and even a playground on the grounds have made the juggle that little bit easier.

And with this year’s election looming, there’s no doubt Maiki, who is also a licensed te reo translator, will hit the ground running.

She takes her position seriously and is proud to also be the chair of the Press Gallery – the first Māori person to hold the role.

“Even today, we know the Māori voice isn’t as strong as it should be in mainstream media. We’re grappling with big issues, like our identity, the place of te reo Māori and even co-governance, and it’s important that the Māori perspective is there. Viewers want to hear it.”

Making her Press Gallery debut.

With a big job, six children, her translation work and her studies, Maiki would be forgiven for feeling tired. But she shrugs it off.

“I do get tired, but then I think, ‘There’s no time for that,’ because I’m too hungry to achieve more.”

She also credits Anaru, who she met when she was 19, for helping her manage her workload. “He’s an amazing dad, but he’s also a great partner. He’s always got my back as I push us forward. The main thing is he’s my best friend. We enjoy each other’s company, we still have fun and we’re still smiling. We have a good thing going on here.”

And despite her full schedule, Maiki is not ruling out more babies one day.

First, though, there’s an election to cover and plenty more to achieve.

“My mum had my youngest sister when she was 43, so I figure I have at least another eight years! Every baby is a blessing, so we’ll see.”

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