Over the past year, a small collective of local organisations have been working together to provide Wahakura Wānanga for Tararua families. Wahakura are a bed for babies, woven with harakeke (flax). National results have shown that the use of Wahakura has contributed to the reduction of SUDI (Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy) by providing a safe sleeping space for babies, particularly when co-sleeping.
Expectant parents and their whānau are welcomed on to the marae and spend the day with an experienced weaver (kairāranga) to help them complete their wahakura in one day. After a few weeks of drying, the wahakura are returned to the whānau, complete with a mattress, linen and knitting.
Although Covid-19 and the lockdown period provided challenges, The Trust Tararua, the Whānau Weavers group, Te Kōhanga Whakawhaiti Marae in Pahiatua and Pahiatua Help N Hand Supergrans worked hard to ensure that whānau in our district were able to access wahakura and at alert level 1, be able to weave their own.
Weavers continued to weave wahakura during lockdown and these were delivered to whānau. However, getting back to meeting in groups post-lockdown and maintaining the original intent of the wahakura project have meant we are getting together more often now with smaller groups of families who want to weave a wahakura for their pēpi.
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The Whānau Weavers continue to be part of providing Wahakura Wānanga in Pahiatua, Woodville and Dannevirke and also support Mokopuna Ora Wahakura Wānanga in Linton, Rangiotū, Palmerston North and Horowhenua, assisting whānau to create their choice of a safe sleeping space for pēpi.
Wahakura Wānanga will now be held regularly in Dannevirke and will be supported by Rangitāne o Tamaki nui a Rua, the Whānau Weavers, Mokopuna Ora, Tararua REAP and a new local sewing and knitting group.
Wānanga would not be possible without the financial support from the Creative Communities NZ scheme, the Lotteries Community grant and Tindall Foundation donations. Thanks for supporting whānau in the Tararua!
• If you would like to know more, feel free to contact Kelly at The Trust Tararua (ph 06 376 7608) or Hiria Tua-Davidson at Te Kōhanga Whakawhaiti Marae in Pahiatua (ph 027 612 2299).