Koha Aperahama says in the Māori world there is a belief that pregnant women are the most treasured of the whole whanau.
And a new programme she is co-ordinating is all about reclaiming those beliefs.
Ngā Tātai Ihorangi - Our First 2000 Days, was launched on Tuesday at Pehiāweri Marae in Whangārei.
The programme, developed by Northland District Health Board with support from health providers and social services, will see wānanga held throughout the region to provide antenatal education to pregnant Māori women.
"Whakapapa is the most important thing in te ao Māori (the Māori world) and that absolutely meant our hapū māmā (pregnant women) were the most treasured of the whole whānau. It wasn't just a whānau, it was a hapū that took care of that māmā and provided her all the things she needed so that she could grow and nurture a healthy pēpi," Aperahama said.
Northland DHB group antenatal education sessions were attended by 22 per cent of eligible Māori women during 2014/15, compared with 54 per cent of non-Māori attending in 2014 and 58 per cent in 2015.
Ngā Tātai Ihorangi has been developed to increase Māori engagement.
Aperahama said key issues such as mental health, smoking cessation, and the impact of drugs and alcohol would all be discussed during wānanga, but through a Māori framework.
"We use creation narrative to tell the story of how the world evolved in a Māori world view, but it also replicated the story from conception to birth - so the moment of confirmation of pregnancy and the feelings that go with that, to the moment of clarity which happens at te wheiao, which is the transition from growing a pēpi to bringing this pēpi in to this world, so in that we talk about labour and birth."
As part of the programme a song and music video You are Women - written and performed by Taniora Tauariki and Gibson Harrison - was released.
The video follows Kaylah and Reece Bermingham as they go through important milestones during pregnancy and talks about the importance of whānau supporting hapū māmā.
Kaylah, who gave birth to baby Ngāwai Madisyn Blair Bermingham on October 7, said the antenatal classes the couple attended provided them with a wealth of information, and being supported by Reece made a "huge difference".
"We experienced all those things together. He's really amazing with baby, he reminds me of stuff we learned there more so than I'm reminding him," she said.
More resources will be released on the Northland DHB Facebook page over the next 12 months and mothers will also receive wahakura (woven flax bassinet) when they take part in the programme.