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Whakanuia: Celebrating the Hapū Māmā Village

“Whāngaia kia tupu kia puawai”

That which is nurtured blossoms and grows

This whakataukī encapsulates the journey of our core design team which has seen our māmā blossom in our Hapū Māmā Village, finding their voice and growing their belief in themselves.

The blossoming and growth of our pēpi in the womb of our māmā is the greatest gift that exists to ensure continuous whakapapa. Traditionally, both wahine, tāne and kaumātua played roles of nurturers. Therefore, we understand that hapūtanga was shared by the village.

At Healthy Families Whanganui, Rangitīkei, Ruapehu [WRR] we know the early years [first 2000 days] are essential life stages for positive child development. This is why we partnered with whānau and maternal-child health services to learn more about what we can all do better to support whānau and their tamariki’s health aspirations.

In 2021 we began a journey to understand the lived experiences of māmā, pāpā, and whānau during their maternity journey. We specifically wanted to understand why so many māmā were engaging with health support so late in their pregnancy.

The approach adopted by Healthy Families WRR utilizes the village concept - the “Hapū Māmā Village”. Underpinned by mātauranga Māori the Village creates a safe and inclusive space for whānau to share, connect, and brainstorm new solutions.

The “Hapū Māmā Village Insights and Recommendations” report offers a comprehensive analysis of the lived experiences of Hapū Māmā while accessing maternity healthcare during pregnancy, from conception to the first 2000 days. Together, we explored whānau ideas and aspirations to improve service, meaningful engagement, and better health outcomes. It also highlights the challenges and barriers faced during their maternity journey, shedding light on the cultural, social, and systemic factors that influence their well-being.

Key findings in the report revolve around the need for culturally sensitive and inclusive healthcare services, recognising the importance of traditional practices and support systems within the Hapū Māmā village. It emphasises the significance of community involvement and empowerment to address the unique health disparities faced by Hapū Māmā.

These were some of the voices from our whānau,

“The Find Your Midwife website is useless. It took us ages to find a midwife, and then she wasn’t right for us, but she was the only one we could find that was available.”

“We need a Village like this so we as men can talk and share our experiences and feelings just like women should too. I feel like this is good for us. Talking like this together is good for my mental health.”

“I wish someone had said, ‘its OK for you to make the decisions for you!”

The report concludes with a set of well-considered recommendations aimed at improving maternity healthcare for Hapū Māmā. These recommendations emphasise the incorporation of Māori cultural values and practices into healthcare services, fostering collaborative partnerships between healthcare providers and Māori communities, and promoting health equity and access to quality care for all Hapū Māmā.

On Monday 10 July 2023 Healthy Families Whanganui, Rangitīkei, Ruapehu had the privilege to bring the core design team alongside Te Whatu Ora Whanganui to share the Hapū Māmā Village Insights and Recommendations report and to celebrate and acknowledge their contribution.

This report serves as a valuable resource to inform policymakers, healthcare practitioners, and communities on how to create a more inclusive and supportive maternity healthcare environment for Hapū Māmā, aligning with the values and aspirations of Healthy Families NZ.

If you are interested in knowing more, or engaging in the development and implementation of any of the recommendations please contact:

Pania Millar - or Kylee Osborne -


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