Enthusiastic response to pēpi packs

Pēpī pack pic.There has been an overwhelming positive response to the new Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu pēpi packs, launched at Ngāi Tahu Hui-ā- Iwi 2015 in Dunedin over the weekend.

The pēpi packs are an exciting initiative developed by the Mātauranga team at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, as part of a two-pronged approached to whānau ora and tamariki ora. On one hand, the flax wahakura (bassinets), help reduce Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI); and on the other, they are about weaving in ‘the latest strands of Ngāi Tahu’ – helping newborn Ngāi Tahu pēpi to grow a strong cultural connection to their iwi.

“Statistics tell us that more than 60% of babies who die suddenly and unexpectedly in Aotearoa are Māori. We hope our pēpi packs will help address the huge disparities in the alarming rate of SUDI deaths in Aotearoa,” said Deputy Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai, who officially launched the new initiative at Hui-ā-Iwi.

“The packs were also developed with our connection to our Ngāi Tahu babies in mind,” she said.

“International research tells us that there are many benefits later in life for babies who have a strong connection to their culture, heritage and community. The pēpi packs are our way of establishing a lifelong connection with our babies, no matter where they may be in the world.”

The Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu pēpi packs will be sent to all registered newborn members of Ngāi Tahu, in Aotearoa and across the world. The packs contain clothes, blankets, te reo Māori books, Whai Rawa enrolment information for the tribal savings scheme, a piece of pounamu and the baby’s genealogy scroll traced back to the tribe’s eponymous ancestor, Tahu Pōtiki. The pods will be delivered in a flax pod, woven by acknowledged weavers of the tribe.

Mātauranga Programme Leader, Tribal Interests, Justin Tipa says the packs represent a very successful collaboration between several departments within Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

The international Pēpi Pack is sent in a box rather than in the flax pod to accommodate Customs regulations.

The international Pēpi Pack is sent in a box rather than in the flax pod to accommodate Customs regulations.

“It’s been an excellent opportunity for our Mātauranga team to collaborate with Whai Rawa, Ngāi Tahu Pounamu, Whakapapa, our language programme Kotahi Mano Kāika and our Ngāi Tahu weavers; and early signals suggest that the tribe’s significant investment in this project has been well worth it. We’ve been thrilled with the initial overwhelming response to the packs,” he says.

“By receiving a pēpi pack, whānau can help reinforce our babies’ pride in their identity from a very early age,” said Justin.
“As the tribal whakataukī states, mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei – for us, and for our children after us. This is about how we can best serve our youngest iwi members from the earliest age. It’s part of our educational strategy that has a targeted approach to early childhood. Research has shown that the more investment you make in the first 3-4 years of a child’s life, the more benefits they will experience in later years.”

The first pēpi pack was presented to Tamaraukura Russell-Sullivan and his parents Wiremu and Takiwai at Hui ā Iwi on the weekend.

“Parents who want to register their newborn babies with the tribe can do so immediately and their packs will be delivered from January onward. A copy of baby’s birth certificate is required for registration with the tribe, and parents can begin the registration process by accessing the online registration form via the tribe’s whakapapa page on its website.

“This is an exciting initiative for us and we encourage all Ngāi Tahu whānau to register themselves and their pēpi with us so they can take advantage of this great opportunity to connect to the iwi and the services it can provide their whānau.”

For more information on the packs, please contact the Mātauranga team: matauranga@ngaitahu.iwi.nz