VIP social work team leader Jenny Milne, left, VIP clinical co-ordinator Narina Sewell cutting the cake, donated by Masterton Pak ‘n Save, VIP community coo-rdinator Brad Martin, and VIP administrator Brenda Johansen. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

Hayley Gastmeier

Babies born in Wairarapa Hospital will for the foreseeable future be leaving the maternity ward wearing an important message.

Wairarapa District Health Board’s Violence Intervention Programme is behind the new initiative, which will have all new-borns receiving a bodysuit that has the message, either in English or in te reo Maori, “I deserve to be happy, healthy, and safe” on the back.

Newborn baby Cherry wearing one of the VIP body suits.
PHOTO/SUPPLIED

On the front, it says, “fragile, handle with care”.

VIP has launched the project during the month of November to coincide with White Ribbon Day, which promotes the importance of men having respectful relationships with women and to live by respectful values.

The goal is to prevent violence.

VIP has received additional funding to allow the project to continue throughout 2020.

The initiative also includes five community champions saying what happy, healthy and safe means to them, with their comments to be displayed on screens throughout Wairarapa Hospital.

The champions are Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson, youth worker Alan Maxwell, Rangitane o Wairarapa cultural adviser Mike Kawana, kuia Aunty Mihi, and lawyer Gretchen Freeman.

At the project launch last week, VIP clinical co-ordinator Narina Sewell said the initiative promoted “looking after our children”.

She said it would not have been possible without financial support from the Maternity Quality and Safety Programme, Rangitane Tu Mai Ra Trust, Lee Malneek Contractors, and Wairarapa Community Health Trust.

VIP supports health sector family violence programmes throughout New Zealand.

“If we can reduce the rate of family violence we can drastically reduce the cost of health,” Narina said.

One of the mum’s who received a bodysuit for her newborn baby, Cherry, said the onesies were a great idea, adding that the message would get out even when on the washing line.

In her message, Aunty Mihi said a stable whanau needed to experience love, even when relationships break down.

“A happy home is a secure environment for the bringing up of infants (mokopuna) and teenagers (rangatahi) to ensure a safe and happy future.”

Alan Maxwell said, “Be connected to people who care, be mindful of what you watch, read and listen to.

“They all feed your wairua (soul) just as food feeds the body.

“Eat healthy, be active, connect with nature.”