The power of mirimiri

12 June 2024

Living between the bush and the beach is Lainie Asher (Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Tūwharetoa), the wahine behind pēpi mirimiri (baby massage) workshops in the Bay of Plenty and beyond.

Lainie’s organisation, Ignited Wellbeing, was started as an extension of her interest in Te Whare Tapa Whā and her knowledge and experience of holistic wellbeing.

During , Lainie took a particular interest in wellbeing for māmā and pēpi.  It was then, through her research and training on pēpi , that Lainie saw the power of loving touch.

Everyone in the world can do it. We can connect with someone just by establishing loving touch, whether it’s between parent and pēpi, or grandparent and pēpi, or aunty and pēpi. That’s the whole basis of pēpi mirimiri.

“It’s less about the techniques, and more about eye contact, familiar smells, and feeling safe.”

Creating a foundation of love and security

Travelling from Ōhope to Whakatāne, Kawerau to Te Urewera, Lainie’s workshops have created a place for māmā to connect and meet others who are on a similar whānau journey.

Her belief is that in the first year of life, pēpi are like a “super sponge”, absorbing everything around them. So, she says, it’s about creating an environment where they can take in their surroundings, setting them up for life.

“There are a lot of aspects to pēpi mirimiri, and there’s a lot of energy,” she explains.

“What’s important is creating an environment through that energy in the first year of life, that will set them up with a solid foundation for the rest of their journey.”

Working with ten in a class, Lainie often starts her two-hour workshop with a , before encouraging māmā to tune in with baby and what they may need. After snacks, a drink, and a nappy change, everyone settles in before learning to use mirimiri, as well as working through a special journal and pack of including Tākai parenting resources.

Dad and pēpi
Dad and pēpi

While the workshops are mainly full of māmā, Lainie says some pāpā have got on board too.

“The pāpa have really gotten into it. They’re learning, they’re showing me pictures of them doing mirimiri together, reading the booklets, and going through the resource packs.”

“Because we don’t have a lot of pāpā, what I really love is that they’re spreading it out, and when they leave the workshop, māmā are telling their partners, or grandparents, or an aunty or uncle, sharing the aroha around.”

Connecting whānau with tikanga Māori

Often teaching whānau Māori, Lainie says she can see tikanga Māori and te ao Māori kōrero resonate immediately.

“I think what we have created is really in alignment with parenting, because our tīpuna were so immersed in all of the different aspects of Te Whare Tapa Whā. They were in the , they were on the land all of the time, so they had such an intrinsic connection with wairua.”

Using pēpi mirimiri with her own tamariki, Lainie has seen firsthand the benefits of establishing a lasting connection with a loving touch.

“My eight-year-old tamaiti, she still loves getting a mirimiri. I just think it’s so adorable that mirimiri, even though she mustn’t remember because she was so tiny, sparks a connection with the people who created that vibration, that energy when she was so little.”

“Because I can see the impact, and how that energy carries on for years to come, I want to share that, I want other māmā to have that, and I want them to know that it’s important.”

Do you have a great idea?

This community project was made possible with support from the Tākai Local Initiative Fund. Get in touch if you have a great idea to make positive change for whānau in your community.

Get in touch