May 10, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

BOP DHP seeks to combat SIDS using Wahakura/Pepi-Pod Wananga

4 min read

We have been informed that the Bay of Plenty DHB has made funding available for a Wahakura, Wananga to be held in Tauranga Moana on the21 and 22 June 2012 at Tutereinga Marae, Te Puna.

This is in response to the increase in numbers of deaths from SUDI (Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy), particularly among Maori infants in the Western Bay of Plenty from 2009 2011.

Raewyn Lucas, Coordinator for the Child and Youth Mortality Review, has made it clear that her duty is to review the cases of these infants alongside other agents of the Bay of Plenty CYMR group, and to identify points of intervention that may help us get in front of more SUDI deaths of vulnerable infants.

A Wahakura, Pepi Pod Wananga is one way of bringing together kairaranga/weavers, rangatahi (our young parents and parents of the future), Whanau and groups of service providers that focus on education and child and family health to facilitate a practical approach to preventing the tragic and often preventable deaths of babies in the first year of life and beyond.

Please take time to read the information belowabout the proposed Wahakura, Pepi Pod Wananga. It is hoped that you will pass this information on to your networks as a collaborative approach is needed to strengthen the delivery of a successful event within a short timeframe. You are warmly invited to participate.

As time is of the essence, Raewyn looks forward to hearing from you soon with expressions of interest, helpful suggestions or contact details of persons who may want to contribute towards making this event a success for the benefit of infants in our region and beyond.



Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) rates are high among Maori babies, though these rates have fallen among other ethnic groups. Babies are more vulnerable to SUDI when exposed to smoking during pregnancy, when their birthweight is less than 2500gms and when co-sleeping with adults, especially with those who smoke and/or use alcohol or drugs.

Smoking is high among Maori women during and after their pregnancies. Maternal smoking and co-sleeping in bed with an infant increases the risk of SUDI. Other risk factors include unsafe infant sleep position (prone sleeping or with the head slumped forward occluding the infants airway) and unsafe placement (with pillows, loose covers or on a couch where overheating and/or suffocation may occur). Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life is considered a protective factor against SUDI

The wahakura is awoven baby bed made from harakeke (flax) and is designed to protect the baby by providing a safe sleeping space in an adult bed during the first 6 months of life. It originated as an indigenousresponse to the high rates of SUDI for M?ori and the risks associated with co-sleeping and maternal smoking. The wahakura is suitable for babies from birth to 6 months of age.It is rectangular in shape, and has an open weave so is naturally ventilated to allow airflow to regulate temperature around the baby. It is handmade and not treated with any toxic chemicals or products. The wahakura may prevent a co-sleeping adult lying over the infant.

The Pepi-Pod is a general purpose storage box that converts to a baby sized bed with the addition of an attractive cover, fitting mattress and bedding. Like the wahakura it offers babies a safe space when they sleep in or on an adult bed, on a couch, in a makeshift setting or away from home. These are situations with a higher risk of accidental suffocation for babies.

Rationale for a Wahakura, Pepi-Pod Wananga

There have been 13 recorded infant deaths from SUDI in the Bay of Plenty from 2009 2011, showing a steady increase in rates during this period.

Most infants who died from SUDI in the Bay of Plenty were Maori and all but one death occurred in Tauranga Moana. These cases are currently under review by the Bay of Plenty Child and Youth Mortality Review group where the risk factors for SUDI will be carefully examined and lethal combinations identified and compared prior to recommendations being made.

A Wahakura, Pepi-Pod Wananga is an opportunity to generate awareness about safe infant sleeping practices and protective factors that enable SUDI intervention.


The Wahakura, Pepi-Pod Wananga will be facilitated in Tauranga Moana before July 2012 and run in collaboration with:

  • Kairaranga/weavers
  • Iwi providers tamariki ora, whangai-u etc.
  • DHB Maternity Services
  • Lead Maternity Carers
  • Education providers
  • Ante-natal service providers
  • Well Child Providers
  • PHOs

The target population is:

  • Pregnant women
  • All Whanau, especially those with young babies
  • Teen parents
  • Secondary school students
  • Persons interested in learning the art of weaving wahakura

Project Goals and Objectives:

  • To reduce the rate of SUDI among the Bay of Plenty population, particularly for Maori and other vulnerable infants, by using a consistent approach to SUDI intervention in primary and secondary health care settings
  • To provide opportunity for Whanau to participate in the art of making wahakura that enables sustainability of traditional Maori parenting practice
  • To promote the message every sleep a safe sleep for infants in the first year of life and beyond
  • To promote smoking cessation during pregnancy, smoke-free environments for infants and breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life as protective factors for all babies

Raewyn Lucas
Child and Youth Mortality Review
Injury Prevention
Bay of Plenty District Health Board

DDI: 07 579 8091
Email:[email protected]

3 thoughts on “BOP DHP seeks to combat SIDS using Wahakura/Pepi-Pod Wananga

  1. At the risk of sounding cheesy and as we celebrate the 1st birthday of our first child, my wife and I used the pepi pod this time last year with great results. It got us into a good habit of making sure baby was safe when sleeping. Around the time of the huge aftershocks, we would rather have baby with us…big ups the pepi pod.

  2. Interested in attending. Is there a cost attached for those interested in attending, and what are people requested to take along to the Whananga eg; flax and tools?.

  3. I am very intersted in attending this Wananga
    I have been weaving for 25 years and for the past 7 years I have been employed by Te Wananga o Aotearoa ki Porirua as a Pouako Raranga and teach Toi Paematua Raranga Level 4,5,6 I am based at Omaka Marae Blenheim

    I am aslo the chairperson of Te Rapuora o Te Waiharakeke Maori Health Services which is based in Blenheim and being able to attend this Wananga would only but enhance our service we provide for our people

    Margaret Bond

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