Kokiri Marae Health and Social Services launched their Moe Ora mō ngā pēpi - SUDI Prevention Programme last week. The programme aims to prevent the occurrence of SUDI through a number of interventions which support stopping smoking and safe sleep practices. The launch took place at Wainuiomata Marae in Lower Hutt. National SUDI Prevention Coordination Manager, Fay Selby-Law, shared SUDI evidence and these insights with those in attendance. 

“Mai i te whare tangata mō ake tonu, kia auahi kore”

From the first home in the womb, let it be smokefree. 

"Ahakoa ki wai, Ahakoa ki hea"

No matter who, No matter where. We are saying whoever is caring for baby and where ever baby is being cared for, they need a safe place to sleep for every sleep.

Smoking during pregnancy and unsafe infant bed-sharing are modifiable factors which increase the risk of SUDI. The Kokiri Marae prevention programme offers services which support expectant mothers and their whānau to lead smoke free lives through their Hapū Māmā Stop Smoking Programme. In addition, they offer education about safe sleep to whānau and providers, and seeks to improve access to safe sleep devices such as wahakura and Pēpi-Pods.

Nga mihi to the Hutt Valley DHB for the funding of their putea to Kokiri Marae Health and Social Services. Kokiri Marae now has the resource to provide SUDI prevention to the communities they serve.  It has been a while since there has been a SUDI prevention programme and we are delighted this work will continue to support our babies, our mothers, our whanau and our communities. 

Actions like this are important, when data highlights that Māori babies are almost seven times more likely to pass away as a result of SUDI than non-Māori. While inequities remain, services that take a by Māori, for Māori approach work for our communities and align with Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We encourage more DHB’s to look to similar and existing services within their regions in seeking to reduce the occurrence of SUDI nationally" says Fay Selby-Law.

Māori professionals in the SUDI sector have had significant impact in influencing the changing nature of bed-sharing in a way which is culturally considerate and meaningful. Wahakura (flax bassinets) are crafted by expert weavers across Aotearoa to allow for whānau to sleep close to their baby safely, with proximity during sleep promoting breastfeeding. Importantly, wahakura are environmentally sustainable and encourage cultural revitalisation.

There were many beautiful wahakura at this launch, each different, each a work of art, each reminding us that like the stars of Matariki each pepi born is unique and there will be a wahakura to fit and will provide a safe place for them to sleep.

"Health initiatives which incorporate Māori practices should be embraced by the health sector as Māori are more likely to engage in a system which reflects their belief systems. Change can occur through realising the strengths of Māori based interventions" says Janell Dymus, Tamaki Makaurau Māori Public Health Manager for Hāpai Te Hauora.