E tūtaki ana ngā kapua o te rangi, kei runga, kei runga te Mangoroa e kōpae pū ana | The clouds in the sky close over, but above them spreads the milky way

PADA Māori Maternal Mental Health Hui


Read about our hui – Waiora Whāea – Oketopa October 2022


On 27-28 October 2022 we held a Māori Maternal Mental Health two day hui in Rotorua at the Tangatarua Marae, attended by 120 care providers who play a significant role in the lives of pregnant women and people, and new parents.

We had originally planned a one-day seminar, however due to the circumstances of the Covid-19 restrictions in 2021, we were unable to hold our planned face to face hui on a marae with so many people. We pivoted this hui to an online zui, and re-planned our face to face event in Rotorua 2022. The hui covered a huge variety of important topics relating to perinatal mental illness for Māori, caused by pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting.

We had the most amazing topics shared by a host of incredible clinicians.

Bianca Taute from Kia Mama shared her journey from self to māmā and then back to self.

Sandra Mear brought up the reclamation of traditional birthing practices and supports, childbirth education, child development and rites of passage from a Te Ao Māori perspective and mātua-pēpi /tamaiti relationships;

Elizabeth Emere Harte from Tūpuna Parenting shared reclaiming Māori parenting ways for raising our rangatira of tomorrow.

Lyn Doherty spoke about Māori parenting programmes to restore mana to whānau.

Dr. Naomi Simmonds discussed Māori maternity research and hapū ora implementation.

Shelly Bell shared her contribution to SUDI prevention and gave a practical raranga /weaving workshop.

PADA Kaumātua Joanne Teina talked of her lived experiences of perinatal mood disorders.

Alayne Mikaere-Hall shared her research and study pathways in lecturing and oversight responsibilities for the Violence and Trauma postgraduate studies and developing evidence based Māori and Indigenous therapeutic interventions;

Dr. Moana Eruera discussed social and community work including family violence prevention, child safety and protection, youth justice and Ngāpuhi based violence prevention research;

Sadly due to illness Te Rauhiringa Brown was unable to present in person, so Joanne Teina presented on her behalf, about the recent negative comments surfacing online about her using both English and Te Reo while presenting the weather on TV One.

PADA Kaiako Pasifika Jasmine Davis talked of her personal journey in motherhood, supporting Pasifika brothers and sisters in navigating the many obstacles they face adjusting to life in Aotearoa NZ.

Who participated and benefited from the hui?

120 care providers from a range of services including Whānau Āwhina Plunket and Wellchild nurses, midwives, nurses, social workers, support workers, GP’s, counsellors, psychologists, researchers, psychotherapists and mental health clinicians. With the knowledge gained at our hui, care providers and voluntary groups have better mental health literacy and are better prepared to support Māori whānau so they can be the best parents they can be. Over time these care providers will care for thousands of families and whānau in and throughout the Bay of Plenty region and beyond.

An important feature of the hui was whakawhanaungatanga – to create connections between care providers; to have the opportunity to meet each other and to stay connected in the future. We know this is so important because people from different services often work in isolation and don’t know about each other. They now know who to call on when they next need assistance and have deeper connections within the mental health sector.

Our aim is to break down the stigma attached to people suffering from perinatal mental illness, leading to people experiencing less judgment, and becoming more likely to reveal what they are really going through. Our hui, and all PADA seminars, attract midwifery continuing education hours.

PADA Kaumātua Joanne Teina introducing herself, her mahi and PADA

What was achieved by holding our hui?

The work of PADA is directly reducing the stigma around mental health and parenthood. Families and whānau are better informed and supported and parents are more adjusted through our initiatives. Children and siblings are better supported preventing lasting negative outcomes.

Midwives report that they are better informed and able to recognise early warning signs of distress and refer or give information more appropriately and confidently.

Care providers have gained up-to-date knowledge so they can learn how to build trusted relationships with their clients, recognise symptoms, screen patients, learn when and how to refer to specialists, and intervene early to prevent depression or anxiety from becoming chronic or acute.

We asked attendees what they found most useful about our hui and their responses were:

“The guest speakers were experienced. The network of people was priceless”


“The healing of Dr Naomi kōrero, and just attending and being a part of PADA for the whole duration was awesome”


“I love the range of kōrero from the different amazing speakers!”


“The depth, wairua and mātauranga that was shared”


“The collective mātauranga Māori shared by the speakers. Each kaupapa could have been a wānanga in itself”


“I am more aware now of how cultural and spiritual aspects can play a major role in Māori women’s wellbeing during birth and the early stages of parenting”


“I can learn from every person that I meet and every experience that I have. I can be confident that expressions of kaupapa tuku iho are excellent ways to guide my practice. I am inspired to research moteatea from my tupuna and learn deeper meanings.”


“I thoroughly enjoyed each presentation and how professional it was presented to us. A brilliant end of the two-day wananga on Raranga.”


“To get a first understanding of the rich and deep ways Māori hold in the birthing and perinatal phase of a whānau/families life.”


“Reclaiming the birth process from a Te Ao Maori perspective”


“Mental health is real, it is hard and whānau aren’t always supportive or understanding of the detrimental impacts it has on new Māmā caring for newborns”


“I am inspired to be Tangata Tiriti – a treaty partner that supports and uplifts Tangata Whenua and to stand alongside and make space for Māori ways of being and doing”

Our hui had many benefits but perhaps the most important is that for future generations we can positively impact the early years of a child’s life.

What other community benefits or outcomes were achieved?

Research shows that we are the only organisation offering professional development in perinatal mental health to care providers. Health NZ/Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora often rely on community groups like PADA to fill this gap for the health professionals in the region. Maternal mental health services are at capacity and only see patients that are at the severe end of the scale. They rely on community support groups to help those experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of depression or anxiety, however without appropriate support these symptoms can become worse leading to chronic or acute mental illness.

Often the volunteers in these groups are untrained and rely on their personal experience of perinatal distress to help others. It is regrettable that a significant proportion of whānau are not receiving the services they need to prevent the deterioration of their mental wellbeing. Our hui evaluation shows a common thread, that care providers feel they lack knowledge about Māori perinatal mental health but have gained new knowledge and skills that they will implement in their practice.

Better educated care providers leads to whānau receiving the help they need in a non-judgmental, culturally appropriate setting. As a result, they are more likely to recover quickly and seek help early leading to improved health, stability and resilience. Patients gain a better understanding of mental illnesses and understand why it’s important to seek help early.

Pictured: Shelly Bell giving her practical raranga | weaving workshop

What our mahi is about:

  • A reduction in the maternal suicide rate and child abuse statistics.
  • Well-resourced and better educated care providers.
  • More culturally competent support being offered.
  • Parents being more knowledgeable about perinatal mental illness and subsequent pregnancies and babies are managed better.
  • Children having strong bonds with nurturing parents.

PADA strives to be the ‘go to’ place for training and information about perinatal anxiety and depression. There is no health without mental health and increasing awareness will drive social change with a goal toward improving the quality of care for parents experiencing all types of perinatal depression and reducing the stigma of perinatal mental illness.

We continue to contribute to research into families’ and whānau experiences of pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood and factors that may lead to mental illness. Gaining valuable data about perinatal mental health helps us understand the impact of our work and inform best practice for our organisation.

“Intervening early and getting that right is the key. That is where the money should go, that’s where the focus should be. A good childhood sets people up on a really good trajectory for life. If the mothers are better looked after the babies will benefit.”
Professor Richie Poulton, Director Dunedin Longitudinal Study.

Venue | Tangatarua Marae


The very beautiful Tangatarua Marae is located on Mokoia Campus, in the Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in Rotorua, part of Te Pūkenga – New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology. Tangatarua Marae, whose name translates to “two peoples, together in one place in one land” was officially opened on October 5, 1996 and is named after a Tūhourangi ancestor, Tangatarua, who lived on the land where Mokoia Campus is situated today.

Māori maternal mental health hui

Thanks to our funders

With thanks to Te Hiringa Hauora | Health Promotion Agency | Gattung Foundation and COGS Community Organisation Grants Scheme for funding to enable this hui to go ahead, and to Bay Trust for subsiding the cost of registrations.