Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Wairarapa pupils perform at the launch of Ka Tipu Auahi Kore Nga Mokopuna – Mokopuna Growing Up Smokefree, an exhibition at Aratoi in Masterton. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER
An exhibition aimed at encouraging Maori women to stop smoking for the sake of their younger whanau was launched at Aratoi on Thursday, World Smokefree Day.
Wairarapa Smokefree Network, Whaiora, and Regional Public Health are behind ‘Ka Tipu Auahi Kore Nga Mokopuna: Mokopuna Growing Up Smokefree’ – a project that tells the stories of nine Wairarapa wahine, who quit smoking for their grandchildren.
Photographer Kiri Riwai-Couch is behind the stunning portraits of the women, which are accompanied by their unique stopping smoking stories, written by the Times-Age.
After a week at Aratoi, the exhibition will be displayed around the region.
Wairarapa District Health Board smokefree co-ordinator Linda Spence said the initiative targeted tupuna wahine, or grandmothers, as they were family role models whose actions influenced the wider family.
“Maybe if we start with the grandmothers, them being the leaders of the whanau, it would filter down.”
Maori women are more likely to smoke than any other group of people in Aotearoa, and statistics show that more than 39 per cent of those living in Wairarapa have the habit.
At the exhibition launch, Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson spoke of her cigarette addiction struggle, and proudly stated that she quit three years ago this month.
She said keeping up the habit had become too hard when her grandchildren were born as her daughter did not want her to “stink of smoke” around the babies.
Masterton District Council Maori liaison officer Hoani Paku said the women who had taken on the challenge were an inspiration, and “tane needed to step up to the mark as well”.