Whai U (breastfeeding) poster launchedA gathering at Te Runanga O Te Rarawa in August unveiled a work of art painted by local Ngati Kahu artist, Theresa Reihana, which has become the inspiration for a national poster. Waireti Walters, Te Tai Tokerau breastfeeding advocate hosted the gathering and reports.
Theresa Reihana's painting became the inspiration for a national poster campaign advocating the benefits of breastfeeding for Maori. Waireti asked Theresa to include the following important elements in her visual representation of breastfeeding: whakapapa, traditional birthing, music and nature. The heading for the poster, "Whangai U", is simply "breastfeeding". The caption under the poster conveys the ideas that breastfeeding is, "affordable, available & accessible".
At the launch Maori community leaders and health providers shared their breastfeeding stories before the painting and its' posters were revealed to their appreciative gaze.
"I was 12 lbs at birth and my mother had a job on her hands to feed me. Breastmilk was all she had. So, well done mum!" Ossie Peri, Te Rarawa kaumatua and Te Hauora O Te Hiku O Te Ika trustee.
"In some ways I feel like my generation failed to understand the importance of whai u for our own children. But the simple fact is we were not encouraged to do it. In fact we were actively discouraged." - Marahia Kirkwood, Te Aupouri kuia.
"I breastfed her until she was four, so maybe that's why she turned out the way she has." - Raina Kitchen, Tamariki Ora Nurse with Te Hauora O Te Hiku O Te Ika and mother of national squash champion Shelley Kitchen.
"I was living in Auckland when I was pregnant with my eldest, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to breastfeed. But once I'd had that experience of holding and nurturing my baby I thought - why would anyone want to do anything other than breastfeed their baby?" - Theresa Reihana, artist.
"This is where good health starts - at the breast." - Ossie Peri again.