First 2000 Days Most Important | Te Whatu Ora - Te Tai Tokerau

First 2000 Days Most Important

A new waiata ‘You are Woman’ launched at Pehiāweri Marae in Tikipunga today marked the beginning of new initiative by Northland DHB and service providers to ensure the health and wellbeing of expectant mothers are nurtured throughout their pregnancy and for the first five years of their baby’s life. 

Ngā Tātai Ihorangi – Our First 2000 Days is an innovative new programme of resources developed by Northland DHB with the support of health providers and social services aimed at delivering 10 key principles with a focus on Māori women through Whānau centred Wananga, in an attempt reduce the health inequity gaps for Māori in our region.

The resources produced for the programme include workshop displays, a workbook and a range of audiovisual resources for social media which will be delivered via the Northland DHB Facebook page over the next 12 months. Mothers will also receive whahakura (weaved bassinet) when they take part in the programme.

After consultation with the DHB and providers, it was decided there needed to be a specific focus on the health of the mother to make good choices from conception onwards.  The cessation of smoking and alcohol was key, as was engaging the services of a midwife to help and guide mothers during their pregnancy, with only 22 percent of Māori mothers going to antenatal classes.  Encouraging separate sleeping was also essential and by providing the wahakura, babies have their own safe space to sleep in.

Delivering messages through Kaupapa Māori and Whānau centred wananga proved a successful strategy for engagement and discussion with Māori women in 2012 when Northland DHB took a proactive step to fund research into Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy (SUDI) after our region topped the statistics for SUDI rates in New Zealand.  Northland was losing between Māori 6-8 babies a year to SUDI.

Northland DHB Chief Executive Dr Nick Chamberlain took a proactive step that no other DHB in the country or the Ministry of Health would do by funding the SUDI work to reduce these numbers.  This project focused on Māori women in Mārae based wananga to promote reducing the key risk factors for SUDI which are maternal smoking, adult/sibling bed sharing with an infant and the position of your baby when sleeping.

After this investment into the SUDI work, by the end of 2017 there were two Māori infant SUDI deaths and over 900 safe sleep spaces distributed.

For Ngā Tātai Ihorangi to be effective, the working group wanted to ensure the 10 key prinicples reached the wider community and it was decided that waiata was the perfect medium to achieve that reach.

‘You are women’ was written and performed by Taniora Tauariki and Gibson Harris and was supported by the Hātea Kapa Haka group, northland midwives and health providers involved in the project, all delivering a wonderful music video that sends the message that giving new life is the most important role women and their whānau will do. 

Filmed by Dean Whitehead the music video follows a young couple, Kaylah and Reece Bermingham going through important milestones during their pregnancy to visually tell the story and make it more relatable to the audience. 

When cast and crew turned up for the final day’s filming they learnt that Kaylah and Reece’s baby Ngāwai Madisyn Blair Bermingham had been born that very morning.

“I congratulate everyone  involved in the development of this taonga, which I believe will help us improve health outcomes for tamariki and whānau throughout Northland,” offered Dr Chamberlain.  

(L to R) New mum Kaylah Bermingham (left) with her mum Dee-Ann Brown holding three week old Ngāwai Madisyn-Blair Bermingham, Petina Stone and Taunaha Brown.

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