January 11, 2017
Weavers ramp up for wahakura demand
Official support for wahakura is putting pressure on weavers to produce enough of the flax bassinets to keep up with demand.
A study published in the international journal Paediatrics found infants sleeping in wahakura are as safe as those in conventional bassinets.
Study co-author Dr David Tipene-Leach, who was one of the originators of the wahakua concept as a way to address high levels of sudden death in infancy (SUDI) among Maori, says that will give comfort to officials in the Ministry of Health and district health boards who are developing a national Safe Sleep programme.
He says most DHBs have been using the alternate or soft plastic pepi-pods also developed by his team, but are now also incorporating wahakura into their strategies.
While a dedicated team of weavers has been making wahakura since they were first developed, the craft has blossomed over the past six months, with a range of patterns and stylistic flourishes emerging.
"When it comes to programmes of this nature there is the official response and then there is the community response, which is moving in a strong way," Dr Tipene-Leach says.
He says while most wahakura have gone to Maori mothers because of the cultural practice of bed sharing, they can be used by all families.
“My personal vision is of wahakura becoming the New Zealand way of dealing with infant sleep, woven baskets made out of flax.
“Babies love them. Even when they get too big for them they drag them round and sit in them. They are their place,” he says.
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