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From Tragedy To Taonga - A Family’s Journey To Supporting SUDI Prevention

The death of a mokopuna (grandchild) to sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) has prompted Taranaki weavers and their whānau to lend their expertise and support to Taranaki Tau te moe, Taranaki DHB’s newly named Safe Sleep programme.

Taranaki Tau te moe provides support and education for whānau of pēpi who are at risk of SUDI through factors such as pre-term birth or low birth-weight, maternal smoking and other social circumstances.

Philip and Puhi Nuku say, "The grief of losing a pēpi to SUDI was immense for our entire whānau, especially for our children. This meant we felt it was really important to tautoko the Taranaki Tau te moe kaupapa; creating wahakura was the perfect way for our whānau to offer support.

"Wahakura (bassinets woven from harakeke/flax) are a whakapapa connection to pēpi and whānau. Each wahakura is created through traditional weaving practices passed down through generations. Knowing that wahakura are going to pēpi is something that brings my whānau a lot of joy."

Grace Maha, Taranaki DHB midwife and SUDI prevention coordinator says, "Incidences of SUDI in Māori babies are 5-6 times higher than non-Māori, so it’s important that we provide a programme that is delivered with a kaupapa Māori feel. That starts with the new name, Taranaki Tau te moe."

Along with safe sleep education, whānau referred to Taranaki Tau te moe are gifted a wahakura. These taonga will sustain Taranaki whānau with new pēpi needing an in-bed option that supports safe sleep practices.

"We are incredibly grateful for the mahi (work) that Philip, Puhi and their whānau continue to do in providing these wahakura; we know there is a lot of aroha going into them.

"In time the programme aims to provide opportunities for māmā/whānau to be supported to weave their own wahakura. This process empowers whānau through the use of a traditional Māori practice that sits at the heart of Māori wellbeing," Grace said.

Taranaki Tau te moe has also received further support from a group of skilled kaumatua from Mahia Mai A Whai Tara.

These wāhine have put their group’s mission (to help and encourage all kaumatua to celebrate their good health, rejoice in their ability to be independent and contribute to society while supporting the generations behind them to be strong individuals) into practice by upcycling donated blankets and sheets into warm, breathable bedding for Taranaki Tau te moe wahakura.

If anyone would like to help by sewing/knitting/crocheting bedding for wahakura, or even by just donating blankets and sheets, please call Taranaki Health Foundation general manager Bry Kopu-Scott on 06 753 8688, 021 024 23808.

Lead maternity carers (midwives, GPs, obstetricians) can refer whānau to Taranaki Tau te moe using the referral form available on the Safe Sleep/Taranaki Tau te moe page (on the Taranaki DHB website).

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