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Wāhine Toa Star In New Breast Cancer Campaign Using The Power Of Poetry

Spoken word poets Ngā Hinepūkōrero have teamed up with Breast Cancer Foundation NZ to release a new poem highlighting the importance of mammograms this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The poem, called Ahi Kā, is performed by the group in television and radio advertisements launching today. It draws on the Māori worldview (te ao Māori) of body positivity to encourage women to get a mammogram.

Arihia Hall of Ngā Hinepūkōrero said: “The way wāhine Māori feel about our bodies has changed throughout generations. From our ancestors’ respect for their bodies, to our grandmothers’ feelings of shame and unacceptance, to the current generation’s reclamation of te ao Māori attitudes towards the body, and the love that comes from that.

“Our poem tells the story of wāhine Māori and their journey back to respecting their breasts. We’re thrilled to be part of this national campaign, encouraging women to honour their whakapapa by loving their breasts and getting a mammogram.”

Ah-Leen Rayner, chief executive of Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, said: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in Aotearoa, accounting for more than 650 deaths every year. Our annual awareness campaign seeks to lower these deaths and this year, we’re honoured to have the power of Ngā Hinepūkōrero’s poetry delivering a message that speaks to all Kiwi women.

“Regular mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, before a lump or other symptoms appear. The sooner it’s detected, the more treatable breast cancer is, making it highly survivable. So please, don’t put off having your mammogram, because it could save your life.”

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ recommends considering annual mammograms from 40-49, then every two years from 50. Free mammograms through BreastScreen Aotearoa are available for women aged 45-69 and can be booked by calling 0800 270 200.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there are loads of different ways to get involved - from being breast-aware (checking your breasts or getting a mammogram), to helping to raise vital funds for breast cancer research, education and patient support.

  • Pink Ribbon Street Appeal – Volunteer for, or donate to, NZ’s pinkest street appeal on 29 and 30 October. Donations can also be made online at
  • Pink for a Day – Join hundreds of workplaces going Pink For a Day to raise vital funds and start conversations about breast health and wellbeing.
  • Shop for good – Buy a Pink Product from some of NZ’s favouring brands including Estée Lauder, Bobbi Brown, ghd, Sealy, and Griffin’s, where a portion of sales will go towards Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s life-saving work.
  • See the lights – More than 30 landmarks and prominent buildings around NZ light up in pink during October. Take a photo of your nearest pink landmark and share it tagging #getlitpink to help raise awareness.
  • Pink Ribbon Walk (happening in November this year due to Covid-19) – Walk 5km or 10km for the ones you love in Christchurch (6 November), Wellington (13 November) or Auckland (20 November).

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