Pregnant women and their whanau can now benefit from culturally relevant childbirth education classes thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers and childbirth educators.

The new Hapu Mama course offers an alternative to the mainstream classes provided by Rotorua Parents Centre. Approximately 50 per cent of babies born to women living in Rotorua are Maori.

"The Hapu Mamā education course is designed to cater to the specific needs of pregnant women and their whanau," said Rotorua-born facilitator Jenna Anapu of Raukawa - Ngapuhi.

Mrs Anapu is in the final stages of completing a Diploma in Childbirth Education and aims to use her personal experience as a young mother and Maori heritage to educate local mothers and their families on aspects of pregnancy and parenting.


"We'll be providing information on pregnancy care, labour, childbirth and practical parenting advice such as mirimiri, safe sleeping and immunisations.

"Everyone who attends will also have the opportunity to create an Ipu Whenua - a clay pot designed to hold the whenua (afterbirth) which is then buried."

Representatives from the New Zealand Fire Service will attend to provide free smoke alarms and a qualified car restraint technician will provide information on appropriate car seats and capsules, along with other guest speakers from various local organisations.

Rotorua Parents Centre acting president Caraline Abbott said the centre had provided pregnancy and parenting information and education for nearly 45 years but she said the services had not always met the needs of Maori.

"Hapu Mama classes will be distinctly separate from our mainstream classes and tailored to meet the need of the community," she said.

"It's taken a while for us to get these classes up and running and we're using the first few as a learning process as we work towards a kaupapa Maori model for pregnancy and parenting information."

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Bookings can be made through the Hapu Mama education Rotorua Facebook page, by emailing or phoning (020) 4047 0273.

The wananga will be held at Mokoia Community Association, Owhata and refreshments are provided.