Te Kohanga Whakawhati Marae in Pahiatua will host the first wahakura wānanga for the Pahiatua community this weekend (3-5 Aug).
Jenny Firmin (rāranga teacher, nō Whanganui) and Hakui Ataneta Paewai will be teaching mothers to be and their whanau the wahakura waikawa style and will be accompanied by health and social service providers.
Wahakura is known as a traditional safe sleeping space for newborn babies that is hand-woven out of harakeke using the tradition of rāranga.
The wahakura is the first kaupapa Māori safe-sleeping device. It is a contemporary solution to help combat Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI), based on the customary practice of weaving harakeke.
Firmin has developed a teaching method to teach the waikawa style of wahakura to non-weavers and whānau who are expecting a baby. This method was taught to her five years ago by Dawn Kereru from Gisborne.
She believes that by teaching whānau how to weave wahakura will help empower them to create their own pathway to a healthy wellbeing.
The understandings and tikanga associated with harakeke; weaving and wahakura have many similarities with pregnancy, birth and raising tamariki.
The harakeke plant is made up of a fan with a rito (pēpi) in the center, surrounded by the mātua rau (parent leaf) and then the kaumātua rau (grandparent leaves). The rito and mātua rau are always nurtured and never harvested as they ensure the future survival and well-being of the plant.
There will be ten whānau who will attend the wānaga and learn how to weave their very own wahakura. There will also be more wānanga next year.