Aug 2015: “We are convening this hui to reach both community and workforce, because rates of SUDI for Māori in this area are so high,” says Whakawhetu Regional Advisor for Wellington Jeanine Tamati-Paratene.
Whakawhetu is a government funded national SUDI prevention programme for Māori.
From 2008-2012, 31 babies died of SUDI in the three district health boards covering the Wellington region. That equates to six deaths a year or one baby every two months. More than half of these deaths were in the Hutt Valley District Health Board and overall 71% of these deaths were pepi Māori.
“We have also developed the PEPE model, which is made up of four simple messages about keeping baby safe. This has been designed into a resource which families can keep on their fridge. This is the first stage of designing a suite of resources to support great parenting in whānau.”
Messages to Whānau
Whakawhetu has developed the PEPE model – four simple key messages for whanau about how to make baby safe and prevent SUDI.
- Place - Place baby in their own baby bed
- Eliminate - Eliminate smoking in pregnancy and protect baby with a smoke-free whānau, whare and waka (family, house and car)
- Position - Position baby flat on their back to sleep
- Encourage - Encourage and support Mum to breastfeed
Promoting devices that enable safe bed-sharing has been a primary focus for Whakawhetu. The wahakura is the country’s first Māori safe-sleeping device developed by the Nukutere Weavers’ Collective in Gisborne in 2006. The Wahakura has a traditional forbear in the Porakaraka, a similar pre-European structure slung from the rafters.
Research shows that whānau Māori like, and embrace the Wahakura, as a cultural device to keep baby safe. It is also an effective vessel around which to pass on a range of ante-natal messages.
The major challenge for Whakawhetu is the issue of supply and demand. Their construction and highly time-consuming and requires the expertise of experienced Māori weavers.