Tuku Iho – sharing intergenerational knowledge in maternal and child wellbeing – is a new app that will be a resource for whānau hapū, māma hāpu and māma hou. The app, which is under development, is framed from a te ao Māori perspective.

Tuku Iho has received funding from the Ministry of Health’s Digital Enablement Programme, which provides support for innovation in digital health care. The programme has a particular focus on co-investing in projects that improve access or participation for people who do not access health services and need to. It’s all about improving equity.

The Ministry is working closely with project teams, sharing learning between participating organisations as a community of practice and looking for opportunities to help others learn from these initiatives as they adopt and promote these or similar services elsewhere. The projects are examples of the types of innovation that will be supported by the better access to information enabled by the Hira programme.

Hira will be an ‘ecosystem’ of data and digital services that will enable consumers to access and control their health information through their choice of website or application using a digital device such as a smartphone, tablet or computer. New Zealanders will be more empowered to manage their health, wellbeing and independence. Organisations can work together to share information so that people don’t have to repeat personal details multiple times. Clinicians can harness digital technologies to improve services. The sector and digital innovators can design and contribute innovative data and digital services, making Hira more powerful.

CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora, Selah Hart, says they want to ensure prioritisation of indigenous voices through digital platforms and experiences in the child maternal health sector to privilege te ao Māori and Māori innovations such as wahakura (a woven flax bassinet for babies).

‘We want to link mātauranga Māori – the sets of knowledge that were given to us from our ancestors, and reinvigorate the way it can be applied to everyday living now. This app will be culturally relevant, engaging, trustworthy, and reflective of the holistic nature of maternal health and related kaupapa such as safe sleep and the importance of being smokefree.’

Hāpai Te Hauora Deputy CEO Jason Alexander says the strong co-design approach of the project is critical.

‘We will wananga with community groups in order to co-design and create the product that works for them. We want to be led by whānau, so we must be open to where we are going to end up. We don’t want to be presumptuous and create an app based on what we think they need.’

Hāpai Te Hauora are very mindful of the digital divide, and the importance of not unintentionally increasing inequities.

‘This could go really well for those who are enabled by digital connection but could also fall by the wayside because of the digital disparity that exists around digital equity. We are thinking about what we offer to those who don’t necessarily want to engage from a digital perspective; to find a way to make the information accessible to them as well.’

Selah says the most exciting thing about the project is being able to finally create an app.

‘We have been talking about it a long time and never had the resources or mandate from the Ministry of Health to do it. Good things take time, they take stamina to get there, but this is now a great opportunity for us to test our ideas. It is a mark of the progress of Hāpai and the health care system overall in the use of technology to enable better health outcomes for Māori.’