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Hāpu Wānanga attracts overseas research

L/R: Momi from Hawaii with manager Kelly Spriggs from Hāpu Wānanga

Waikato DHB’s Hapū Wānanga, a birthing programme for expectant mums, is spreading across the Pacific with interest to improve indigenous health in Hawaii.

The fresh and fun kaupapa Māori programme on labour, birth and parenting captured the interest of a researcher, Momi Tolentino from Hawaii, who spent time with the DHB’s Māori health service Te Puna Oranga to attend a two day Hapū Wānanga course – now Momi now wants to take its approach back home.

“I’m so grateful I got to be a part of a Hapū Wānanga” said Momi who is currently an undergraduate at New Hampshire’s Dartmouth College, US, and as a native Hawaiian has a passion to help improve indigenous health in maternal and child care.

“This type of model could be implemented in Hawaiian communities because of the similarities in our culture. My mom was a Hawaiian language teacher, I was fortunate to embrace our culture being raised and immersed in a native setting with spoken words about legends and stories which is what I lived by. But not all Hawaiians have this privilege” she says.

Hapū Wānanga is run by Te Puna Oranga project manager Kelly Spriggs and Rawinia Hohua who are taking mammas by storm by empowering them with the best information, choices and skills for maternity that fit with their whanau’s traditions.

The success of Hapū Wānanga is real, now reaching hundreds of women. What started out for young pregnant women and their whanau is now attracting all walks of life and cultures, and other DHB’s are looking at adopting the model.

“Having something like Hapū Wānanga with its engaging delivery that walks in the modern, but also the traditional worlds’ allows people to live their life based on cultural values but also brings this into the perspective of a world where everything is changing” says Momi.

“Many Hawaiians’ don’t get that interaction, especially with maternal health, so there’s a part of them that may lose their sense of place or cultural identity.”

Momi says the Treaty of Waitangi and the ability for indigenous people to work with the government is an advantage for New Zealander’s.

“Hawai’ians don’t have the same level of relationship with governments like New Zealand, nor the choices when it comes to their maternal plan. We don’t have a Hawaiian King, or the like to speak on behalf of a culture and communities have to band together and really enforce traditional practises.”

Kelly from Hapū Wānanga says “We are so grateful that we are able to provide this space for Māori women and now more non-Māori women too, because some of the mainstream services don’t work for them. We’re really thankful for the treaty to allow us to provide a service with the DHB that brings in cultural values and more choices for women.

“Women and their whanau walk away from our course feeling empowered because of the tikanga (beliefs and values)  we have here, and help to teach all women that mana wahine is inside of them all too.”

Hāpai Te Hauora welcomed Momi to New Zealand to assist the SUDI (Sudden Unexpected Death of an Infant) team in an internship as well as to offer an international indigenous perspective.

What Momi plans to take back home with her is learnings from our way of providing indigenous education and empowering women and families in maternal care for Hawaiian cultures to learn from.

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