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Māori Health supports first tobacco-free early childhood centre

Hamilton’s Bright Stars Educare early childhood centre has become the first early childhood centre in New Zealand to become Tupeka Kore (tobacco free).Te Puna Oranga general manager Ditre Tamatea (centre) celebrates with Te Puna Oranga staff, Bright Stars Educare children, whanau, staff and supporters.

Hamilton’s Bright Stars Educare early childhood centre has become the first early childhood centre in New Zealand to become Tupeka Kore (tobacco free).Te Puna Oranga general manager Ditre Tamatea (centre) celebrates with Te Puna Oranga staff, Bright Stars Educare children, whanau, staff and supporters.

Te Puna Oranga, Waikato District Health Board’s Māori Health service,  has celebrated another victory in the war against tobacco with a ceremony to honour Bright Stars Educare as the first early childhood centre in New Zealand to become Tupeka Kore (tobacco free).

The ceremony marked the placement of a Tupeka Kore kawenata (tobacco free covenant) on the bi-lingual Hamilton centre this morning (Wednesday 19 June). It was led out by Te Puna Oranga staff and attended by whanau, Bright Stars Educare staff, and representatives from T&T Consulting and Ngā Taiatea Wharekura school.

“Tupeka Kore is Te Puna Oranga’s tobacco free programme encouraging tobacco-free lifestyles for whānau, communities, iwi, hapū and marae. It’s a tikanga Māori approach and a progression from Auahi Kore (Smokefree),” Te Puna Oranga general manager Ditre Tamatea said.

Bright Stars Educare decided to become Tupeka Kore after a whanau hui hosted by Te Puna Oranga staff in 2012. The concept was presented to parents and grandparents who collectively decided to ban tobacco from the premises.

“The decision was driven by the whanau themselves – non-smokers and smokers alike. It needs to be this way. It’s about people taking personal ownership,” Te Puna Oranga workforce development coordinator Natania Katene said.

“The parents and grandparents are excited and emotional. They want the best for their kids,” she said.

Now all whanau and visitors who come onto the premises or attend Bright Stars Educare outings must responsibly contain all tobacco. It must not be visible to children.

“The reason why we focus so much on tupeka kore and auahi kore is simple. Tobacco and smoking related diseases result in the highest number of deaths for Māori. Our tamariki, mokopuna and whānau are the ones who miss out,” Mr Tamatea said

“It’s our mission to spread the concept of Tupeka Kore into any service or facility that wants it to be enacted. The most exciting thing for us is when Maori organisations go Tupeka Kore – especially those that deal with our tamariki.”

Te Puna Oranga offices were the first Waikato DHB service to become Tupeka Kore in 2012, followed by Midland Cancer Network and Population Health at Waikato DHB.

Support for a tobacco free environment is also gaining strong momentum elsewhere. Te Puna Oranga is in conversation with governance boards at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Bernard Fergusson primary and intermediate school and Ngā Taiatea Wharekura secondary school to also support the leadership position of tupeka kore.

“In the end Aotearoa New Zealand will be Tupeka Kore and Smokefree. We are expecting a legacy of change with Māori at the fore. The reason is because so many Māori smoke; so Māori need to lead the solutions,” Mr Tamatea said.

Te Puna Oranga offices were the first at Waikato DHB to become Tupeka Kore in 2012, followed by Midland Cancer Network and Population Health.

Te Puna Oranga continues to place significant emphasis on work that supports tupeka kore / auahi kore objectives, including providing in-patient quit support and the distribution of over 1500 pepi-pods (safe sleep modules) with smokefree and breastfeeding messages to high need whānau.

ENDS

General media enquiries
Mobile: 021 671 239
Email: news@waikatodhb.health.nz

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