Evidence is building in support of an antenatal programme from Northland that is setting an example for nationwide maternity care and enduring issues of equity for Māori.
Ngā Wānanga o Hine Kōpū reconnects pregnant Māori women and their whānau with mātauranga Māori to explore conception, pregnancy, birth and parenting. The wānanga was designed in, by and for the women of the small, solution-focused communities of Te Tai Tokerau. But its approach has resonance throughout New Zealand.
In late 2021 a short film, Ngā Wānanga o Hine Kōpū created by Te Hiringa Hauora | Health Promotion Agency in partnership with The Spinoff, featured hapū māmā (pregnant mothers), fathers and whānau as they explored, learned and gained confidence through the wānanga.
Now an independent evaluation of the wānanga, echoes the voices of whānau who said Hine Kōpū awoke in them a spirit of self-determination. A summary of the evaluation by Kataraina Pipi, Kate McKegg and Huhana Moselen shows Hine Kōpū is about much more than parents learning information that is deemed clinically important for good birth outcomes.
Instead, Hine Kōpū is a shared whānau experience of healing, connecting and exploring. It is about reclaiming Māori identity, cultural confidence and giving rise to tino rangatiratanga in the birthing experience. There is evidence of this confidence flowing through into whānau identifying their own aspirations for their future. The wānanga is transforming lives, far beyond the outcomes expected in the mainstream antenatal education service.