An initiative to get more women in for cervical screening is gaining more and more traction with each campaign in Te Awamutu.

The third Smear Your Mea day was held on Sunday at Mahoe Medical and 53 women went along and had their smear test, nearly 10 more than at the previous Smear Your Mea day held last year.

For some, it was even there first time having one done and for others there first in over 10 years.

"It was a really cool day. It's such an intimate procedure and so I am just so proud that women came it and that the message is getting out there – we need to normalise this more," says Mahoe Medical nurse Tanya McDermott.


Of the 53 women who went along, 18 were classed as high needs.

In New Zealand cervical screening is only free for women under the age of 25 or for women of Māori, Indian, Asian or Pacific descent as they are considered to be high needs because they are "notoriously under screened".

"They are four times more likely to get cervical cancer but they are less likely to come it and get screened. There's a big sort of embarrassment around it, they call it whakamā," says Tanya.

Over 50 women attended Mahoe Medical's Smear your Mea Day over the weekend. Photo / Supplied
Over 50 women attended Mahoe Medical's Smear your Mea Day over the weekend. Photo / Supplied

On the day a women in her 50s shared her story about how she was regularly getting smear tests and that how one day she suddenly got an abnormal result.

Tanya says the important thing about her story was to show women that the HPV virus that causes cervical cancer is slow growing.

"What we see is people tend to screen regularly when they are young and then when they get to their 40s the screening drops off, but that's exactly where we see spikes in HPV and cervical cancer," says Tanya.

The Smear Your Mea campaign was started by Talei Morrison – a Māori woman who became frustrated at the lack of information accessible to her when she got cervical cancer.

Talei passed away in 2017.


"Before she died she threw everything into this amazing campaign, this is her baby," says Tanya.

Smear Your Mea's mission is to raise awareness of cervical cancer and encourage women to have a smear test.

On the day, Mahoe Medical provided morning tea, offered free sexual health consults for everyone and offered a long acting reversible contraceptive (LARCS) clinic which looked into the Mirena, the Depo Provera Injection and Jadelle – all of which are now funded in New Zealand.