National | Baby

Ngāti Toa-led māmā hub opened in Porirua

A unique iwi-owned service for pregnant women and their families has been launched in Porirua.

It’s called Te Puna Wairua and was designed by Ngāti Toa Rangatira in collaboration with Te Tātai Hauora o Hine Hine (Victoria Universities Women’s Health Research Centre).

“They're (Ngāti Toa) sharing the waka, and the rest of us are bringing our skills and our strengths so we can surround that whānau with what their needs are,” Te Tātai Hauora o Hine director Beverly Lawton says.

Lawton says the hub was created after research showed persistent health inequities for pregnant Māori women.

“This is a journey that everybody knows we have to take, and we know we have to change things or nothing will happen and our babies and our mums will continue to be harmed and die when it doesn’t have to be this way.”

The service will provide new support and access to healthcare such as midwifery support, obstetrician services and maternal mental health services, all through a te ao Māori lens.

Pou Tikanga Taku Parai (Ngāti Toa Rangatira) says the difference between this service and mainstream services is the incorporation of "taha Māori, wairua Māori, taha hinengaro, taha whānau, and all those guiding principles and kawa that are understood within their worldview."

The blessing for the hub was celebrated on International Women's Day and attended by Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro. She's the patron of Victoria University's women's health research centre, Te Tātai Hauora o Hine, which worked with Ngāti Toa to create the centre.

“It’s just amazing to know that we have the support of one of our most important Māori wāhine,” Lawton says.