Oriori or lullabies can sooth a baby during pregnancy and after they are born. Whānau can write their own songs about whānau, ancestors and the kinds of values they want the baby to have.

Tūpuna Parenting: Waiata oriori

There are waiata sections in every chapter of the Whakatipu booklets, and an invitation to listen to some of them on the Tākai website. If the technology is available, you might do this together.

Soothing baby with waiata

Invite whānau to look at page 20 of the Whakatipu booklet Te Kākano with you. This little section on oriori reminds us that traditionally these lullabies told stories to children about their ancestors. However, any personal story can be turned into a special song or oriori for pēpi.

Oriori are often seen as lullabies designed to calm babies or soothe them off to sleep. However, they may also be used as a welcoming chant as a baby is born.

Ask whānau how they feel about waiata and whether they’ve considered singing to their unborn child. Ask:

  • What songs are special to your whānau?
  • Is music important to you and your whānau?
  • Does anyone in the home play an instrument?
  • What sort of music helps you go to sleep?

Studies have shown that new borns recognise songs that have been sung to them during pregnancy. An oriori or chant doesn’t have to be too elaborate – it can be short with repeated phrases.

  • Have you ever thought of making up a song for your pēpi?
  • What might you include in an oriori for them? What would be important for them?

‘Nā tō rourou, nā tōku rourou, ka ora ai te iwi – With your knowledge and my knowledge, we will thrive.’

This whakataukī reinforces the benefits of sharing resources and working together. We’re not all the same. Each parent will bring different experiences to support their new whānau. Recognising this and valuing each other’s contribution strengthens relationships.

Each parent might have different ideas on what they’d include. They could write their own waiata oriori for pēpi based on what’s important to them. It might help them to write some ideas down to get things started.

Here are some prompts to help whānau focus on their pēpi:

  • Where are they from?
  • What is their maunga, awa, moana, iwi, marae?
  • What is their whakapapa – who came before them (for example, mātua, koro and kuia, tīpuna – parents, grandparents, ancestor)?
  • What were the achievements of their ancestors?
  • Are there expectations for them that have been handed down from their ancestors?
  • How could they get guidance from tīpuna about their place in the world?
  • What do you want them to know about the world and their place in it?
  • What values do you want them to share?
  • What qualities do you wish for them?

How does this relate to Tākai resources?

Baby wall frieze – Waiata mai – Sing to me

Six things children need – Te kōrero me te whakarongo – Talking and listening

Helpful resources for whānau