Wahakura project raises SUDI awareness

By Regan Paranihi

The first participants of the Whānau Ora – Raranga Wahakura Pilot Project are set to celebrate their success and achievements at a graduation ceremony this Sunday 25 November.

This project was developed by Papakura Plunket Nurse Donna Fane to help educate whānau Māori about safe sleeping spaces for their newborn babies and to reduce SUDI (Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy) rates among Māori.

Fane says, “The Counties Manukau area has the highest SUDI rate within New Zealand. The Māori community SUDI rate is four-five times higher than non-Māori.”

This initiative teaches the participants how to make a traditional wahakura (handwoven bassinette) over a four-week period at Papakura Marae which supports the inter-generational learning of tikanga (customs and traditions), whakawhanaungatanga (family connections, building relationships) and tino rangatiratanga (self-empowerment).

“I wanted to empower whānau to create their own pathway to whānau ora or wellbeing. By teaching them how to weave they have an opportunity to think about how they are preparing to welcome their new pepi into the world while producing a wahakura that is unique and reflects the aspirations of the whānau,” says Fane.


SUDI Prevention Programme Manager Tina Higgins says Counties Manukau Health is committed to reducing the occurrence of SUDI in homes which extremely affects Māori and Pacific families.

“We are really pleased to support the wahakura project as it allows time for re-connection and re-engagement in traditional Māori customs and practices for whānau, making it unique and special.”

Plunket Clinical Services Manager Gay Ford says the project has been successful and empowering for the women.

“Plunket nurses support whānau in various ways and Donna’s project gives whānau the opportunity to experience something special, alongside nurturing parental support and health messages.”

Gay also says, “We recognise it takes a village to raise a child, and this project aims to give holistic support to the mother and whānau through creating a positive cultural connectedness.”

The graduation takes place at 2 pm on Sunday at the Papakura Marae, with Plunket Chief Executive Amanda Malu attending, along with representatives from Counties Manukau Health.