As stories and traditions are passed down from one generation to the next, so too are much-loved woollen blankets thanks to a group of volunteers.
SuperGrans Manawatū is celebrating its volunteers having repurposed and edged 300 blankets for pēpē (babies) sleeping in wahakura (harakeke bassinets).
Donated woollen blankets are washed, cut to size and edged with satin ribbon.
The blankets are then given to Mokopuna Ora for distribution.
Mokopuna Ora weaves together Māori culture, and pregnancy and parenting information.
Wahakura are hand-woven, safe sleep spaces for pēpē up to 6 months of age. They allow co-sleeping and are part of a Māori approach to combat Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI).
SuperGrans Manawatū manager Joanne Baird says the organisation starting repurposing the blankets in 2017 and is on track to complete 400 by mid-2021.
"It's a really rewarding programme and the stats have shown that this programme throughout New Zealand has reduced the instance of SUDI."
SuperGrans won a 2020 Minister of Health Volunteer Award for its blankets.
In winning the Health Care Provider Service Outstanding Team Award, SuperGrans edged out entrants from Auckland and Wellington.
"We value our volunteers but to have them nationally recognised was pretty awesome," Baird says.
SuperGrans Manawatū also offers free sewing, knitting, crocheting, cooking, gardening and household management classes, either through one-on-one in-home mentoring or hands-on workshops.
"We watch people grow in that time, they become more confident in their language if English is a second language," Baird says.
SuperGrans can also run classes for specific groups.
"It's not just about sewing," she says. "When they come up here it's about confidence, it's about forming friendships, it's about learning new skills."
SuperGrans has about 30 volunteers. More volunteer mentors are always welcome - the ability to teach only one skill is fine. Baird says not all volunteers are older people and men are welcome too.
Donations of woollen blankets are also welcome, but SuperGrans cannot use blankets pets have slept on.
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