Lisa Kahu and Avaya Parata her moko granddaughter

Lisa Kahu, Mama and Pēpi Service, Te Tai O Marokura

"My haka is loud"

Lisa Kahu has been on the front line of women’s health for more than 20 years.

Working for Kaikōura health and social service agency Te Tai O Marokura in their Mama & Pēpi service, Lisa is a staunch advocate for her community. She is the deputy chair of the Women’s Consumer Council and is passionate about ensuring the rural and Māori voice is heard in health.

“My haka is loud,’ says Lisa, with a smile.

“When my daughter had her baby and had to stay overnight at Christchurch Women’s Hospital we were not allowed to stay with her. We needed that to change. And it has.

“And while we’ve made massive progress in the way we’re looking after mothers and their babies, we have a few more wins we need to make – like getting these chairs,” says Lisa.

The specialist chairs which Māia Health Foundation is fundraising to purchase for Christchurch Women’s Hospital will provide a comfortable place for a support person to sit, and sleep, while a new mother and baby are in hospital.

“To me it’s a no-brainer to have someone there to support that new mother, to help with the little things like picking up baby or changing baby. Many woman are noticing that when they push the buzzer for help it can take some time for a nurse to come – they are so overworked. That’s why it makes so much sense to provide a comfortable space for a support person to stay.”

And while a support person is now allowed to stay, Lisa says it’s where they need to stay that’s the problem. They are offered a chair or a vinyl mattress on the floor to sleep on.

“Culturally we are taught to care for those we get care from, especially a parent or significant other. It’s about manaaki - respect - and providing those we respect with a minimum level of care. To ask your mum, a grandmother, to sit on a plastic seat while you sleep in a bed for five hours, it is very difficult to ask because of the respect we have for them. And many women won’t ask.”

Lisa says as well as supporting the mother and pēpi, these chairs will make the environment safer. “I don’t imagine nurses like stepping over a sleeping man to check on a women during the night. It’s not safe and it’s not right.

“For rural families, we also need to provide the support person with a place where they can get enough rest so it’s safe to get home. For our Kaikōura families the new mum, baby and support person have a three hour drive once they leave hospital. We need to ensure they’ve had enough sleep to make that trip safely.”

Lisa is encouraging people to support Māia Health Foundation’s Maternity Chair campaign as she knows just how great a difference it will make.

“I’m hoping you can hear my haka now. Support Māia and help buy these chairs for our wahine, our pēpi and our community.”

For more information about Māia’s Maternity Campaign click here

To gift it forward now, click here

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