The Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) Te Waka Hauora team held the South Island’s first wananga haputanga, or learning session, sharing the concept of kaupapa Māori pregnancy and parenting programmes.
Representatives from South Island District Health Board Māori health teams, Māori providers and maternity services were invited to the wananga to share, to learn and to advocate for the establishment of a kaupapa Māori programme in their region. NMH General Manager Māori Health and Vulnerable Populations, Ditre Tamatea says the aim of the wananga was to promote ‘positive disruption for change’.
“The ultimate goal is to ensure Māori whānau across the South Island have the option of accessing their own kaupapa Māori pregnancy and parenting programme,” he says. “Currently three out of the five South Island DHBs don’t have a kaupapa Māori programme, and that needs to change.”
Participants heard presentations from the South Island programmes, Hapu Wananga and Tuhono, which operate within Nelson Marlborough, and Whānau Mai which is delivered by Te Puaiwaitanga, a Canterbury Māori provider. The three programmes all cover mainstream parenting and pregnancy issues but also talk about traditional Māori practices around pregnancy, birth and parenting.
The free programmes are open to all whānau, not just pregnant wahine and partners. “They have the right cultural fit for Māori, are strength based, positive and often include gifting of taonga or products that’ll help whanau care for their pepe,” says Ditre. “For example, all whanau leave the wananga with a wahakura or flax woven bassinet, filled with a mattress, sheets, merino blankets and baby products.”
Nelson Marlborough’s Hapu Wananga programme is close to reaching an attendance target of over 100 whānau. “The programme has smashed the myth that Māori don’t engage in pregnancy and parenting programmes, with well over a thousand percent increase in Māori uptake since it was launched in late 2018,” Ditre says.
He says central to the programme’s success is the team approach which includes partnering with, Te Piki Oranga, Māori providers, Public Health, maternity services and Whanau Ora providers. “The programme also responds quickly to whānau feedback in terms of improvement and is highly mobile – it operates in Motueka, Nelson and Marlborough.”
“We are also blessed with facilitators and a wide support team that know their stuff both clinically and culturally.” Mr Tamatea also acknowledged the leadership of Rachael Peek, Tui Lister, Paora Mackie and Thomas Ngaruhe and others that contributed to the success of Hapu Wananga. “Having both wahine and tane leading and supporting the programme is an important approach,” says Thomas Ngaruhe.
“From a kaupapa Māori perspective we are returning the mana to the role of our tane, to their role in parenting (taha tane, taha wahine) and in some way this has been a missing ingredient to many current maternal health approaches.”
Hapu wananga facilitator Rachael Peek also says having a kaupapa Māori and whānau focus is vital. “It’s a programme that resonates with Māori and high needs non-Māori. We can see that it works by placing the hapu mama at the centre of her whānau support.” Te Piki Oranga site manager for Motueka Lydia Mains and Wairau programme navigator Niki Waitai spoke about Nelson Marlborough’s other kaupapa Māori pregnancy and parenting programme, Tuhono. Tuhono focuses on a small cohort of whānau with very high-needs, often related to welfare, mental health and addiction issues.
The programme works intensively with whānau in their home to create positive change. It’s a pilot programme with funding from the Māori Health Innovation fund.Ditre Tamatea says he and Canterbury DHB Portfolio Manager, Ngaire Button have appealed to the South Island Alliance Operational Group for sustainable or adequate funding for the establishment of kaupapa Māori pregnancy and parenting programmes across the South Island.
Ditre says everyone attending the wananga haputanga benefited from sharing, celebrating and talking about the challenges facing Māori Kaupapa. “There is no doubt that people are passionate and fired up to create change in this space. Noise will grow across Te Waipounamu that kaupapa Maori pregnancy and parenting programmes work and establishing programmes across the South Island is a must.”