New Research Professor at EIT


Widely acclaimed for his achievements in promoting Māori health, David Tipene-Leach is EIT’s newly appointed Professor of Māori and Indigenous Research.

“Moving out of clinical practice is a huge change and I will miss patient care,” says Professor Tipene-Leach, who, for the last 10 years, was a general medical practitioner with Hauora Heretaunga at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga.

“However, the opportunities at EIT are endless.”

Northland weaver invited to collect flax after saying it is hard to find

Cassandra Moar says the most difficult part of weaving is actually finding the flax so when she received calls from several people inviting the Whangarei weaver to collect flax she was "amazed".

Ms Moar appeared in the Northern Advocate two weeks ago as part of a story on a study which proved the safety of wahakura - woven flax bassinets. Ms Moar is contracted by Northland District Health Board to make wahakura and said it was hard to find flax in Whangarei and she often travelled out of town to find it.

Flax bassinets keeping Northland weaver busy

In the front yard of her Whangarei home Cassandra Moar sits under a tree with flax in her hand weaving a wahakura waikawa - a woven bassinet. Two completed wahakura waikawa - wahakura meaning "a place where babies sleep" and waikawa the name of the style of the weave - sit in front of her.

Ms Moar has been weaving since she was "a kid" but has been making wahakura for about five years. She makes 20 in a day.

Wahakura safe for baby sleep

The study led by Associate Professor Sally Baddock of Otago Polytechnic and Professor Barry Taylor and Dr David Tipene-Leach of the University of Otago has been published in leading scientific journal Pediatrics.


Dr Tipene-Leach says it was conducted to collect hard evidence on the safety of wahakura and foam plastic pepi-pods as an alternative to infant-adult bed-sharing.

Weavers ramp up for wahakura demand

Official support for wahakura is putting pressure on weavers to produce enough of the flax bassinets to keep up with demand.  A study published in the international journal Paediatrics found infants sleeping in wahakura are as safe as those in conventional bassinets.

Study co-author Dr David Tipene-Leach, who was one of the originators of the wahakua concept as a way to address high levels of sudden death in infancy (SUDI) among Maori, says that will give comfort to officials in the Ministry of Health and district health boards who are developing a national Safe Sleep programme.

New Pepi-Pods help Bay babies sleep safely

A Rotary club is paying for dozens of "sleep pods" to help Bay babies sleep safely.  Otumoetai Rotary Club donated $4600 towards buying 45 of the "Pepi-Pod" devices, which rose to prominence when they were used after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

The devices consist of a ventilated food-grade plastic box with a foam mattress, two sets of sheets, a merino wool blanket and some educational materials.

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Pregnant southern smokers receive 15k in vouchers as incentive to quit

The Southern District Health Board has given more than $15,000 worth of grocery and Warehouse vouchers to pregnant smokers as an incentive to quit.

The SDHB says international evidence shows incentives may be an effective strategy in getting pregnant women to quit smoking.

The voucher incentives, which peaked at $350 per pregnant woman,  were initially offered to pregnant smokers living in the Dunedin, Mataura, Gore, Edendale and Bluff areas who enrolled in the SDHBs six-month pilot Smokefree Babies Programme.

Buggy walkers converge on Pukearike Landing for Safe Sleep Day

Young mums converged on to Pukeariki Landing after pushing their tiny tots strapped into strollers, front-packs, and pushchairs on the buggy walk from East End beach to Pukeariki Landing.

The Taranaki DHB organised the outdoor event to shine the light on national Safe Sleep Day, a campaign developed to promote safe sleep practices for babies.

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Traditional flax bassinets for Bay babies aimed at curbing infant deaths

Every sleep for Hawke's Bay babies should be safe.

This is the goal for the  Hawke's Bay District Health Board as it marked national Safe Sleep Awareness Week this month.Safe sleep coordinator Issy Cresswell said between 2009 and 2010 nine babies died unexpectedly while sleeping in Hawke's Bay and the health board decided to  start educating parents about risks. Sine then then  the number of deaths had reduced.

Hawkes Bay DHB to provide woven bassinets (Wahakura)

An initiative to continue to reduce the risk of Māori babies dying from Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) is being launched by Hawke’s Bay District Health Board (HBDHB) this week to coincide with national Safe Sleep Awareness Week (28 November to 2 December).

Traditional woven flax bassinets called ‘wahakura’ are being made by local woman Riwa Wawatai and her team of weavers for HBDHB in an effort to try and curb SUDI rates. 

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Wahakura sent to parents in crisis in Kaikōura

Weavers from around the country have gifted some traditional Māori sleeping capsules, known as the wahakura, to new mothers and expectant mothers forced into adverse living conditions in the quake-stricken region of Kaikōura to give their babies a safe bed.

"They were sent from Hastings, Auckland, Te Taitokerau, Te Tairāwhiti to Kaikōura to help fill the need in that region," says Dr David Tipene-Leach.

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Co-sleeping mother discharged without conviction after pleading guilty over baby son's death

A troubled teenage mother did only one thing wrong when caring for her premature baby – she ignored advice not to sleep in the same bed as him, a judge has said.

The unnamed woman wept in Hastings District Court on Monday as she was discharged without conviction on a charge relating to the death of her 11-week-old son.

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New service to improve Maori breastfeeding rates

A new breastfeeding service launched as part of a project to reduce the risk of sudden deaths in babies is also expected to see a significant improvement in Maori breastfeeding rates.

Lakes District Health Board launched the Kia Wana Breastfeeding Service in April and maternal, child and youth health portfolio manager Pip King said the response was better than expected.

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