Te whare tangata, the womb, is where pēpi lives and grows during hāputanga (pregnancy) – this is their first home. A whānau may decide to follow special tikanga to keep their hapū māmā and unborn pēpi safe.

Me aro koe ki te hā o Hineahuone

Pay homage to the essence of womankind
This whakataukī talks of the important role of women, who provide the home for pēpi during hapūtanga.

The whare tangata provides all the essential elements required to sustain the beginnings of life until birth, when pēpi emerges into the ‘world of light’.

Tikanga Māori me hapūtanga

Hāputanga is important for Māori because it represents whakapapa and is a sign of growth in whānau, and .

Tikanga are often put in place by hapū, and followed through generations of whānau, to ensure that māmā and the unborn pēpi are well taken care of, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Examples are giving māmā special kai, relieving her from hard or stressful work, or avoiding places and activities that are traditionally seen as risky to a hapū woman.

When hāpu, you are considered to be more open to the spiritual elements, so caution is taken in events on the marae, at the urupā and on other formal occasions.

Although these concepts derive from traditional practices and past times, they can be applied in our world today. Whānau can benefit from considering how these traditional concepts relate to them.

Whanāu tikanga

Some whānau may want to investigate their own whānau tikanga around keeping māmā and pēpi safe during pregnancy.

Often parents know a lot of tikanga without being aware that it’s specifically about protecting a hapū māmā and pēpi. They might just think that it's ‘the way it is’.

Conversation ideas

Are you aware of any of your whānau tikanga around keeping a hapū māmā and their pēpi safe?
Are there any special things that your mother, aunties or grandmothers did during pregnancy?
Are there things that pregnant women don’t do or places they’re not supposed to go? Are there things they are supposed to do?
Who can you ask to find out what you might want to know?
Can you think of any ways of doing things that may be helpful to consider?
How can I help you contact people who might support you with this?
Are there any traditional stories in your culture that talk about caring for pregnant mums?

Making changes

Women often make lifestyle changes to ensure their pēpi has the best start in life. Alcohol, drugs, violence, depression, and inadequate nutrition pose real risks to pēpi and māmā. What can be done to minimise these risks and keep them safe?

  • What changes have you made for the safety of your growing pēpi?
  • What has helped you to make these changes?
  • What has been the most difficult to change?
  • Who has supported the pregnant mum?
  • In what way have they supported her?

Helpful resources for whānau