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Busy mum finds “perfect qualification” to share passion for new parenthood

16 February, 2024

Ara’s Diploma in Transition to Parenting Education leads to job with Plunket.


Tiffany Lissaman with her children (left to right) Eloise, Luca, Juliette and Charlie

A flexible study environment meant Tiffany Lissaman was able to complete her New Zealand Diploma in Pregnancy, Childbirth and Early Parenting Education through Ara Institute of Canterbury even when baby number four was on the way.

Now she’s secured work that can fit around the needs of her busy family too. "I’m excited to start facilitating Pregnancy and Parenting Education classes with Plunket next month,” she said.

Whānau Āwhina Plunket Pregnancy & Parenting Programmes Manager Tessa Taylor said their health and wellbeing support service for whānau with tamariki under five years old has employed many graduates from the course.

“They come to us with a wealth of knowledge and a passion to support whānau in the early years so children can have the best start in life.

“Each year we provide Pregnancy and Parenting programmes to almost 2,700 parents-to-be in wider Canterbury, the West Coast and in Waikato.  It’s a popular course and our facilitators are a much-valued part of the wider Whānau Āwhina Plunket team.”

In addition, Plunket provides parenting programmes in 12 Teen Parent Units across the country as well as online parenting programmes with 12 Youth Service Providers.

Lissaman gained a Bachelor of Commerce as a school leaver and pursued a marketing career in the tech industry. But the birth of her first child ten years ago began a period as a stay-at-home mother and prompted thoughts of a career change.

“After having my children, I realised I have a real passion for everything surrounding the pregnancy, childbirth and the early parenting journey. When I saw this diploma, I instantly knew it was perfect for me,” she said.

“Despite becoming pregnant with my youngest child while studying, I was able to continue throughout pregnancy and during life with a newborn because it was part-time and online. I could do it from home and fit it around my family schedule.”

The “life-changing” study was also sparked by the desire to do something for herself and had now led to the ability to do something for others.

“I really felt it was time for me to do something for me - through something I'm incredibly passionate about. Now I’m equipped to support birthing people, their families and whānau as they navigate these important years from pregnancy to childbirth, and parenthood.”

Revised and now called the New Zealand Diploma in Transitioning to Parenting Education, the two-year, part-time course uses blended learning methods and can be studied from anywhere in New Zealand.

Programme Lead Debbie Stevens proudly described graduates as “ordinary people doing extraordinary things in their community.”

“As a prospective parent, staying healthy in pregnancy, preparing for labour, birth and the arrival of the new infant can be pretty overwhelming. This programme ensures our graduates develop the knowledge and the teaching skills to help parents learn in fun and interactive ways, guiding them and giving them confidence in the choices they make.”

While the average time commitment is estimated at 20 hours per week, it also includes three, 2-3 day in-person intensives in Christchurch or online, plus work-based learning placements which can be arranged in the learner’s location.


Lissaman said the programme, taught by “incredible midwives and tutors at Ara” was in depth and demanding but with great resources and support (including prompt technical assistance) for students.

“The vast amount of up to date, evidenced based, high-quality information we learned through the various papers and courses, as well as the real-world experience we gained from our placements left us feeling prepared and confident for working in this area,” she said.

Her classmates spanned the motu from Whangarei to Central Otago and the friendships formed are tight.

“We had such a close-knit group in our cohort who were all very supportive of one another and wanted each other to succeed.  We communicated with each other on almost a daily basis through our group chat, and when we come together in person for our intensive workshops and wānanga – it was something special. I know that we will all keep in touch.”

Her advice for anyone considering the study path was simply to “go for it”.

“It is such a great course; you'll learn so much and gain so much confidence. Not only that, you'll make some lifelong friends too. It's a great diploma that can fit in alongside family life - it's so flexible with the hours, and being part time, it makes it manageable.”