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A group of Papaiōea weaving students’ efforts could help to plug a gap with a nationwide shortage of wahakura.
And their labour of love is also allowing mothers and their babies to sleep more easily.
The first year level 4 students of Kāwai Ruapapa Certificate in Māori Visual Arts (Raranga) wove wahakura (bassinets) before donating them to a local iwi health centre, Te Kete Houora o Tamaki nui a rua in Dannevirke.
The 11 wahakura are destined for young mothers and their babies and are part of a project developed by Dr David Tipene-Leach in 2001.
It’s believed that wahakura, which are used as a safety enclosure based on traditional Māori designs for sleeping babies, has helped to see the Māori rate of sudden infant death syndrome plummet since 1996 according to figures from the Department of Statistics.
Back then the number of Māori infant deaths was more than double that of Pākeha at 11.6 deaths per 1000 births before their first birthday.
By 2013 the rate had more than halved to 5.07, which is now marginally ahead of Pākeha.
The price of the success is an ongoing demand of wahakura for new parents with many not being returned.
Papaiōea marketing coordinator Damian McGregor said weaving students could help to fill this void locally.
“The good thing about these wahakura is not only is this occupation-oriented but it is also community-focused.” 
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Published On: 3 June 2015

Article By: James Ihaka

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