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Published Thursday 27 Aug 2020

Leith Porter-Samuels empowers pregnant Māori women and their whānau with childbirth and early-parenting skills using a unique kaupapa Māori model.

Leith Porter-Samuels empowers pregnant Māori women and their whānau with childbirth and early-parenting skills using a unique kaupapa Māori model.

She recently hosted birthEd’s free three-day Kaupapa Māori Antenatal and Kaiāwhina Education course at Te Kakano o Te Aroha Marae in Moera, Lower Hutt, and will hold another course in December.

The environment outside of a hospital is more natural - it feels safer to learn, said mum-to-be Ngarangi Williams.

“And here at the whare is where we learn as Māori.”

Parents-to-be Ngarangi Williams and her partner Tama Tutahi-Campbell with, from left to right, Leith Porter-Samuels, Sarah Ashill and Rikki Porter-Samuels.

BirthEd provide a range of free childbirth, breastfeeding, baby care, early parenting and baby safety courses in the greater Wellington area.

This compact course teaches current childbirth and early-parenting knowledge along with ancestral Māori cultural birth stories, beliefs and connection through whakapapa.

It is the result of an ongoing collaborative effort between the mana whenua, Te Āti Awa, birthEd and Hutt Valley DHB.

Ngarangi and her partner, Tama Tutahi-Campbell, are expecting their first baby – a little girl – on October 1.

Tama grew up across the road from his marae in the nearby suburb of Waiwhetu.

“When you have a whaea or a kuia leading the conversation, you can see yourself in it,” Ngarangi said.

“It’s like talking to your own grandmother. There’s that whakapapa.”

A course is taught inside the whare at Te Kakano o Te Aroha Marae.

Leith, who is from Ngati Haua and Ngati Raukawa, said her aim to make the hard stuff simpler and empower young Māori mothers was born from her personal experience as a struggling young mum.

She recalls one of the first courses was an overnight stay held about five years ago. There was a 14 and 16-year-old year old there.

“These two girls were frightened. They were dropped off at the gate and told they would be picked up after it was finished.

“You saw these two girls: Just their eyes peering over the top of their blankets.

“They were engaged. Observing. Listening. It didn’t matter they didn’t have anything to say.

“They stayed and learned on their terms. It was completely safe.”

Rikki Porter-Samuels teaches a group of men to make ipu whenua. Here they are made from clay and used to house the placenta (whenua) following childbirth, which is then returned to the earth (also called whenua).

We have experienced passionate Kaiāwhina from all walks of life, to teach about your most life changing event – becoming a mother, parent and whānau, Leith said.

There is food, sharing of experiences, whānau, kuia, a whole mix of things that cannot be replicated.

“As the need unfolds we’ve had stories here of peole who have had terrible experiences in the past. People who felt they had no voice and were shut down.

“The model we share, the kaupapa Māori model, can be given for anyone.”

For more information about this course and others please contact birthEd on 04 576 9556 and see