Expert weaver Jenny Firman shares her knowledge to a packed Te Whare Pora in Pā Harakeke, Flaxmere.
A diverse group of wāhine met at Te Whare Pora on Tuesday 17 August to learn how to weave a wahakura with expert kairaranga Jenny Firman nō Whanganui. Attendees included hapū māmā, local weavers, nannies, midwives and other health professionals all supporting hapūtanga. All came together to learn the whakapapa, tikanga and weaving of wahakura, ready to pass the knowledge on to other hapū māmā in Hawke’s Bay.
The wānanga was opened by Professor David Tipene-Leach who has been the leading champion of wahakura kaupapa since its inception. Wahakura, a woven harakeke bassinet, was first created in 2006 to address the problem of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) by creating a safe shared sleeping space for babies in their parents’ bed, and the concept has been widely adopted as a safe sleeping device across Aotearoa. SUDI affects between 40 to 60 babies under the age of one in Aotearoa each year.
Jenny Firman holds wānanga like these across the motu. “My mahi is to hāpai te hauora o te whānau, not just weave a bed for pēpi,” she says. “I was once told that I have a skill in raranga and it is my responsibility to pass this skill on to others”. And so Whaea Jenny has developed a weaving style that is ideal for teaching and empowering non-weavers to make their own wahakura and in doing so encouraging whānau to create their own pathway to wellbeing. By teaching others to weave rather than just doing it for them, it helps prepare whānau for welcoming their new pēpi.
Woven throughout the wānanga, positive hauora messages were shared with the attendees to keep our babies safe while they worked together to weave a wahakura. Bringing together a range of health professionals into the wānanga teaches them an understanding of what goes into the kaupapa, the mauri and aroha that is instilled in each wahakura, so they can ensure they are used correctly and respected and share this knowledge with the hapū māmā support.
Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga’s Te Whare Pora is based in Flaxmere Village and provides regular wānanga for hapū māmā and other whānau to learn the art of weaving with our own kairaranga Niwa Ngamare Brightwell. Te Whare Pora provides a safe space for hapū māmā with additional wraparound services for whānau including Whanake Te Kura – a free 2-day antenatal wānanga, Well Child Tamariki Ora – a free programme for children from birth to 5 years and Te Haa Matea – a smoking cessation programme. Anyone interested in finding out more about Te Whare Pora or our support offerings for hapū whānau can visit the whare at shop 16, Flaxmere Shopping Centre or call 0800 TAIWHENUA.