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AUT Funding Helps Kiwis Talk About Money

Newly funded research from AUT aims to tackle economic abuse by helping Kiwis talk comfortably and constructively about money with their loved ones.

AUT Business School’s Dr Ayesha Scott (Department of Finance) and charitable organisation Good Shepherd NZ have been awarded an AUT Health Futures development grant to support their joint research project, “My money, your money…our money? Building a toolkit for Healthy Financial Relationships”.

The researchers acknowledge that money is often a fraught topic for intimate partners in New Zealand, where finances are largely considered a taboo topic and money remains a source of relationship conflict.

The so-called money taboo prevents open discussion of personal finances – including household financial matters – leading to conflict, stress, missed financial opportunities, lower retirement outcomes and poorer financial decision-making.

It can also lead to economic abuse, a pattern of behaviour that restricts or removes another person’s access to money, economic resources, or participation in financial decisions. Economic abuse is often used as a coercive control strategy in Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).

New Zealand leads the OECD for rates of IPV, with one in three New Zealand women experiencing physical and/or sexual violence over their lifetime. Money is often “weaponised” in IPV cases and used to entrap an intimate partner.

Good Shepherd NZ works to improve financial, economic and social wellbeing, particularly for women and girls – the prevalence of IPV among women in New Zealand ensures that economic abuse is a significant focus of its work.

Ayesha says the Health Futures project aims to upskill romantic or intimate partners to discuss money matters in constructive and respectful ways. The research team recognises that not all cultures and peoples in Aotearoa see money in the same way, so tools will be built to be flexible to fit New Zealand’s wide demographic spectrum.

Ultimately, the researchers hope to help New Zealanders become more comfortable talking to their partners about money matters, and ultimately shift Aotearoa’s awareness and understanding of financial abuse.

“Kiwis don’t talk about money. Our project addresses this important, yet under-explored gap in current social, health and finance research,” says Ayesha. “It recognises the complexity of the problem, and places finance into the ongoing intimate partner violence dialogue in New Zealand alongside health, social, law and justice. We aim to overcome the money taboo and ongoing inequality in our community, starting with New Zealanders’ closest relationships.”

Participants wanted: Healthy relationships focus groups

You are invited to participate in a confidential study about talking constructively with your romantic partner about money. If selected, you will attend a two-hour focus group where you can share your experiences and test our Healthy Financial Relationships toolkit; you’ll also complete a follow-up survey. Participants must be at least 18 years old and will receive a koha for their time. Interested? Please email Ayesha Scott:

About AUT Health Futures

AUT Health Futures is a collaborative research initiative designed to understand and tackle a range of issues in the health sector. AUT has committed $20 million over five years for new ideas co-developed with external partners with potential real-world application as a new way of contributing to solving New Zealand’s big challenges.

Read more about Ayesha Scott

Read more about Good Shepherd NZ

Read more about AUT Health Futures

Read more about economic abuse

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