Celebrating our connection to the land by returning whenua (placenta) to the earth.

‘Whenua ki te whenua’ describes the process of returning the whenua (placenta), which has nourished pēpi for 9 months, to the whenua (land), back to Papatūānuku, the earth mother who provides kai for humankind.

Read Whakatipu booklet Te Kākano, page 8, together with whānau. It talks about the significance of pito (the section of umbilical cord nearest the baby's body) and whenua, and what can be done with them after the birth.

Exploring whānau plans

You can find out about the parent's connectedness with their whānau, hapū and iwi through these conversations.

Ask the whānau:

  • Have you heard about people burying the whenua and pito in a special place?
  • What happens in your whānau?
  • Nō hea koe (where are you from)?
  • Nō hea kōrua (where are you both from)?
  • Do you have any plans for this baby’s pito or whenua?
  • Can you tell me about that?
  • What would you like to have happen to their pito and whenua?
  • What does this mean to you in terms of where you belong?

In recent years more and more non-Māori are picking up on practices like burying the pito and whenua. People find special places or plant trees to celebrate their connection to the earth.

  • Is this something you’d like to think about and talk about with your whānau, friends and your midwife?

Ipu whenua

Ipu whenua are also talked about in Te Kākano, on page 31. They’re special containers used to hold the whenua (placenta) so that it can be returned safely to the whenua (land).

Maternity hospitals now check with whānau to see what they would like done with the placenta.

  • What would work for you? Are there any other things you need to consider?
  • If you decide you want to take the whenua home, what you will carry it in?
  • Are there any other family traditions around what you do with the pito and whenua that you might follow?
  • If not, would you like to start one for your whānau?

How does this relate to Tākai resources?

Baby wall frieze – Whakarangatiratia ahau – Make me feel special 

Six things children need – Te ārahi me te māramatanga – guidance and understanding 

Helpful resources for whānau