Regional | Huntly

Huntly Birthing Centre repurposed

The Huntly Birthing Centre has officially closed its doors but a new centre focusing on midwifery has replaced it. Aronui focuses on nurturing children and their parents, offering maternity programmes for whānau.

Taurima te pā harakeke is the programme being run out of Aronui, working in tandem with Raukura Hauora o Tainui. The service offers maternity programmes as well as a respite service for young mothers.

Raukura Hauora o Tainui chief executive Sarina Ponga said the closure of the birthing clinic may have distressed whānau but there was still an avenue for young whānau in the new service.

“One of our biggest goals was to focus on access to services. What we didn’t want to do was lose access to our mums, our new mums, or our hapū māmā having access to a midwife,” she said.

Rahui Papa of Waikato Tainui was there for the opening of the Aronui building in Huntly and elaborated on the name’s meaning.

“Ko te Aronui, ko te aro nui ki te kaupapa ki ngā tātou tamariki, ki ngā tātou mokopuna koia tēnei ka whakaūwhia mai nei ki runga ki tēnei whare, te haerehanga mai o ngā māmā, te haerehanga mai o ngā pāpā ki te manaaki i ngā tātou tamariki o ngā mokopuna. Koirā te aronui o tēnei rā, o haere ake nei.”

The Aronui is the main focus, our tamariki and our mokopuna, which is why we gave the building this name. The coming of mothers and fathers to nurture and foster our children and grandchildren. That is the main focus of today and the many to come.

With the support of Raukura Hauora o Tainui the building is now a place to help parents expecting children.

E tipu e rea services executive Zoe Witika-Hawke said this was a place long yearned for by the iwi.

“We see a lot of discrimination in particular with our young whānau Māori. If you’re hapū, you’re Māori, some of the services or supposed support systems out there have not been good for our whānau. Judgement, unfortunately Oranga Tamariki being at their doors. We can’t continue that sort of model anymore, it’s not good for our whānau, and it’s not good for anyone. So removing those barriers and doing it ourselves, advocating for our whānau, having them in our care with the korowai wrapped around them is what we need more of,” she says.

Papa said the meaning of the rooms within the building also offered a deeper insight than what was shown on the surface.

“Koia te tau 1931 ka whānau mai a Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu ki runga o Waahi. Ka kimihia he ingoa hei tapa ki runga ki a Parehāhā, ko ia te wahine manaaki i a Te Atakaumātua i a Te Atakorokī i tana whanutanga mai. Ka mutu, ka karangatia ko ia te Tapuhi e whakapūhia nei te taonga ki tēnei ao hurihuri.”

In 1931 Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu was born at Waahi Pā. The iwi bestowed the title of tapuhi on Parehāhā, who looked after the royal parents during the birth. The role of a tapuhi is to welcome a child into life.

Aronui is also a place for new mums to be catered for, those who are wanting a rest from everyday works that a mum carries out.

“Mums that just need a break when things are just a little bit overwhelming at home, if they’ve got other tamariki, if they’ve got a busy household and just need a space away to just take a break but they can take their new pēpi with them, can come and stay at our whare in one of our rooms. Within the whare itself we have rongoā, mirimiri, spa, relaxation, we’ve got nurses, and we’ve got a midwife that’s based here as well. So, if you need to have a catch up on anything, we have that. We have nannies that walk around and we have kai available,” Ponga said.