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Fury over a stop to funding for wahakura that save babies

Fury over a stop to funding for wahakura that save babies’ lives

The National President of the Maori Women's Welfare League is appalled at the hypocrisy of a Government where one department proclaims children are taonga and another cuts funding to a programme that has helped to save babies lives.

This week it was revealed the Ministry of Health specified funding could not be spent on wahakura, the flax woven safe-sleeping device, that has just celebrated its 10th anniversary. The wahakura has done much to reduce the Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) death rate of Māori babies.

The Maori Women’s Welfare League through its members have had a long association with this Māori initiative and the work of Whakawhetū, the national Māori SUDI prevention programme.

"There is no question that use of wahakura has helped reduce deaths," the National President, Prue Kapua said. “Funding should be extended, not taken away.

"Research shows wahakura work – it embraces our traditional approaches to sleeping, while ensuring our tamariki are safe.

“It is devastating to see the Ministry of Health ignoring coronial recommendations from at least 12 inquiries.

“The Ministry of Health also appears to be taking an institutionally racist view to bed sharing, when it is clear wahakura address the risk while respecting cultural practices.

The Ministry of Social Development promotes the traditional Māori view of children as taonga who learn life's lessons by living, sleeping and being cared for by the wider Whanau (Volume II of the Ministry of Social Development's White Paper on Vulnerable Children).

"To use our traditional Māori view of children as the basis for the vulnerable children's policy and then to ignore our cultural practices and needs by cutting funding for wahakura is sheer hypocrisy,” says Ms Kapua.

“The Government needs to overturn this decision and put more cash, not less, into wahakura and protect our precious babies," Ms Kapua said.


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