First 1,000 Days

Turning up the heat on sex

27 Jun 2022

Two innovative projects are about to blow the lid off secrets and whispers around sexual health, “Ai-Let’s Talk About Sex” and “Tapu Vā”.  

Equitable access to information about sexual and reproductive health is critical but the topic can be shrouded in complex issues of culture, discomfort and controversy. These two projects are pushing through those barriers to ensure young people have the information they need. The work comes under the banner of the First 1,000 Days programme.

The two projects

“Ai, Let’s talk about sex” is a digital video series of 14 episodes. It features young, bilingual, Māori panellists discussing a wide range of topics to do with sexual and reproductive health. The series will be widely promoted on social media, on Te Hiringa Hauora’s communication channels and housed on Māori Television OnDemand. Watch the promotional video.

“Tapu Vā” features a website where Pasifika peoples are encouraged to join the talanoa about Pacific attitudes to sex, its tapu nature, their own experiences and their aspirations for their communities’ sexual health. There are also videos of young Pasifika people talking about their aspirations for Pacific sexual health. Watch the promotional video.

Tapu Vā evolved through working with Māori and Pacific sexual health leaders who gave clear feedback: “As a society, we still don’t like the fact that young people are having sex”. They believe the reluctance to talk about sex is preventing people from accessing quality information about it, so young people are left having to go to unreliable sources to learn.

Champions of the kaupapa

The projects were shaped in response to community need by communities themselves. Leaders, members of the sexual and reproductive health workforce, academics, health professionals and young Māori and Pacific peoples themselves have all fed in. The work has been community-led and facilitated, with support from Te Hiringa Hauora | Health Promotion Agency.

Well-aware of the topic sensitives, many of the champions of this work are prepared to advocate publically for its importance among their own people. They have laid the challenge, “If not now, when? If not us, who?”.

Te Hiringa Hauora began a project about contraception… and quickly realised that sexual and reproductive health isn't just about sex, it's about beliefs, values, experiences. It’s also about physical and mental wellbeing. So the projects are about more than sex. They are about helping young people to be confident about their bodies and building healthy relationships.

Te Hiringa Hauora believes that when the community has the right tools and language to start healthy conversations around sexual health, the whole community will benefit.

Online safety and processes

Both projects are led by young people. Their safety and support is of critical importance. People may divulge very personal experiences so to ensure their safety there will be heavy moderation on social media channels, a robust privacy policy, options for anonymous posting and the ability for Te Hiringa Hauora to contact ‘posters’ if they have concerns about their safety or believe they need referral to a support service.