National | Pēpi

Awhi Co aims to wrap children in Te Ao Māori

Awhi Company is a Māori business that makes blankets and wraps with the goal of helping newborn babies feel comfortable and safe.

It began as a labour of love for Tasmyn Roach, who created Awhi four years ago.

It was born from her love of making baby blankets for close friends and whānau from muslin wraps to knitted blankets.

Now her Awhi Company believes pēpī should be wrapped in Te Ao Māori from birth.

"It started off with just my love for babies. I just love babies and have always been an auntie. I just think that's the coolest job in the world. I just started making them myself for baby showers and then realised there were people that actually really loved them."

Each blanket is designed with an element of Te Reo Māori or Mātauranga Māori to ensure pēpī stand strong in their identity from the moment they enter this world.

"Babies become addicted to that one 'blankie', and seeing the amount of love and comfort and support that they got from that one blanket, then I was like, 'Oh wow, there's a demand for this'.

"It became about wrapping them in Māori tikanga, reo and in the culture from birth, so that they didn't have to question who they were and where they came from."

Not content with just creating wraps and blankets, Tasmyn has a much bigger goal, to wrap Māori children in their Te Ao Māori, both figuratively and literally.

"I want to create a Te Ao Māori birthing centre, and not just for the birthing itself but how can we reclaim some of our identity? How can we support our whānau to create resilient tamariki so that they don't have to go through as much trauma as they do."

"So how can we flip it on its head and do it from the first 1000 days of their life?"

There is also good news on the home front for Tasmyn and her partner Lance Wanakore, who are expectant parents.

"We are 25 weeks pregnant, so we couldn't be happier. It is our first baby, which is really exciting and nerve-wracking. I've always just been Aunty and I just thought that was the coolest job. And then now it's even cooler but it's just learning all those things."