The Waikato District Health Board Māori Health Service, Te Puna Oranga, have adopted a decade old tradition from Finland for expectant mothers.
Since the 1930’s expectant mothers in Finland are given a starter box containing clothes, sheets and toys for their babies and the box can be used as a bed.
Te Puna Oranga are now doing the same in Waikato and give their expectant mothers, Māmā and Pepi packs when they attend a hapū wānanga.
Waikato DHB Māori Health general manager Ditre Tamatea believes his unit is the first health service to adopt the model in New Zealand. Expectant mums and whānau receive a safe sleep bassinet (Pepi-pod®) with bedding, nappies, wipes, face clothes, baby wraps and stretch and grow, along with medical kit for baby as well as tooth brush and paste and condoms.
The pack also includes an ipu whenua container made of clay which the expectant mum makes as part of the wānanga and can be used to hold the placenta until it’s buried.
“The approach of the Hapū Wānanga pregnancy and parenting programme is about removing barriers – we pick mum and whānau up if they have an issue with transport to the classes, and they needn’t worry about bringing morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea as we will feed them. That’s just part of a kaupapa Māori approach – we like to support and show manaaki or hospitality to others,” said Mr Tamatea.