Flax baskets to aid at-risk babies
Horowhenua parents with babies at high risk of dying unexpectedly will be gifted woven flax baskets in a bid to lower the rate of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).
Twenty-six experienced weavers gathered in Levin at the weekend to make the wahakura flax baskets and learn the weaving technique to take back to their communities.
Expert weaver Dawn Kereru was brought in from Hawkes Bay to teach the group.
Event co-organiser Jenny Warren said 27 wahakura were completed to be given to at-risk whanau in the Horowhenua district.
"Any baby that dies is one too many and we have about 67 every year in this country," she said.
"The significance of the wahakura is its representation to Maori who are over-represented in the statistics. Given Horowhenua has a high number of Maori, wahakura is a means of protecting our babies."
The baskets are now being put through a two-week drying process. Once dried they will be fitted with special mattresses and merino wool lining before midwives in the region hand them out to families deemed at high risk of SUDI.
"Those are babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy, pre-term babies or babies who otherwise would not have their own safe sleeping arrangement," she said.
"The idea is that it is high enough to protect from parents rolling on their baby but low enough to let a parent see their baby."
The project has largely been volunteer and community-based, although some funding has come from MidCentral District Health Board.
Ms Warren said watching the weavers talk about reducing the SUDI rates, smoking during pregnancy and education was just as important as the end product.
"Some of the weavers present had lost mokopuna due to SUDI, creating an emotionally charged, productive and humbling weekend," she said.
"They [the baskets] are a possible means of saving a life and protecting a life but also there is a message and education goes with them."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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