Books for Babes 2019

The Books for Babes initiative marks International Literacy Day, celebrated annually on 8 September. A day set by UNESCO to celebrate and highlight the importance of literacy. This year focused on ‘Literacy and Multilingualism’. However, Waikato Literacy Association mobilized a bilingual approach guided by the following whakataukī:

He aha te kai ō te rangatira?

He kōrero, he kōrero, he kōrero.

What is the food of the leader?

It is knowledge. It is communication.

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50 gift wrapped copies of Hush: A Kiwi Lullaby penned by Joy Cowley, translated in Māori by Ngaere Roberts, and illustrated by Andrew Burdan were purchased by WLA and generously supported by Scholastic. Services to Schools and Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa (National Library of New Zealand) included information pamphlets to give whānau additional ideas of how to create a reading culture at home. Members of the Waikato Literacy Association visited the Huntly Birthcare Unit to donate these books.

Each copy of the warm hearted kiwi version of the traditional lullaby, will be distributed by the wonderful and supportive Birthcare Huntly staff to the mothers of any babies born in the up and coming days or weeks.

The whakataukī above describes how whānau can find nourishment in their learning and understanding of new concepts through speaking aloud with each other. We gifted this book to encourage bilingual and biliteracy opportunities for whānau to enjoy with each other. To foster lots of Reading To and Shared Reading type experiences, as a way to develop rich interactions and kōrero with their pēpi – to feed their learning, knowledge and understandings in both languages of Aotearoa, te reo Māori and te reo Pākehā.

E te rangatira, e Korina Vaughn nō Ngāti Maru me Waikato. Tēnei te mihi nui ki a koe mō te manaakitanga, mō te tiakitanga, mō te kumanutanga me kī, mō ā tātou pā harakeke.

E waimarie ana mātou ko Waikato Literacy Association (WLA) i whakapiri atu a Korina ki te āwhina i a mātou, ki te whakamārama i ngā tikanga tuku iho a te iwi nei. Tēnā koe.


While visiting Huntly Birthing Unit we were blessed to be educated by Korina Vaughn, who is the clinical manager at Birthcare Huntly, in the use of what are now standard traditional Māori birthing practices, such as the use of maripi pounamu (greenstone) to cut the tia (the middle part of the child’s umbilical cord) and muka. Muka is a natural fibre from the harakeke (New Zealand native flax bush) and has natural healing qualities. Māmā or a whānau member are empowered to tie the muka around the pito (the part of the umblical cord closest to the baby). The muka is organic, natural and light on baby’s puku opposed to the clunky plastic clip. The muka comes off a lot quicker and is cleaner too.

Another practice is the use of wahakura, a woven flax bassinet for pepi up to 5-6 months of age. This return to a traditional Māori way of sleeping babies creates a safe sleeping space for babies, protects babies from SUDI (Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy), prevents accidental suffocation, and promotes breast-feeding and bonding.

Being able to choose traditional Māori practices in childbirth connects whānau mentally, spiritually and physically. The wairua traditional Māori practices brings keeps whānau grounded and close to who they are, all of which contributes to whānau well being. Mauri ora!

Ka nui te mihi ki a Korina. Amazing kōrero, learning and knowledge shared which reflects language, culture and identity counts.

To whānau welcoming their baby to the world at Huntly Birthing Unit, enjoy Hush: A Kiwi Lullaby and kōrero, kōrero, kōrero – kia ora ai e te iwi!

Nā, Kylie Te Arihi