Calling all sewers and knitters – Taranaki babies need you

A group of crafty Taranaki women are sewing up a storm to help keep babies safe while sleeping.

The women have been meeting at kaumatua/seniors hub Mahia Mai A Whai Tara in Waitara, armed with sewing machines, scissors and bobbins to up-cycle pre-loved cotton sheets into bassinet sheets for Taranaki babies.

The sewing initiative, prompted by a Taranaki Health Foundation need, provides 100% cotton sheets for Wahakura and Pēpi Pods, which are similar to bassinets and enable at-risk babies to co-sleep safely.

Every year, between 40 and 60 babies die from sudden unexpected death in New Zealand and sadly half of those are accidentally suffocated by their parents while sleeping in the same bed. Wahakura and Pēpi Pods enable babies at risk to sleep safely in their own space, Taranaki Health Foundation general manager Bry Kopu-Scott says.

Once in a wahakura or pod, the next step is to keep baby warm. That’s where Taranaki’s crafty community can help, Bry says.

Taranaki Health Foundation is calling for people to up-cycle pre-loved cotton sheets by sewing them into pod-sized coverings, or for people to knit pure wool blankets. If people can’t knit, crochet or sew, they can donate pure wool or even old woollen blankets, and sheets, which can be cut up and sewn into appropriately sized coverings by groups such as Mahia Mai A Whai Tara.

“We’re running low on donated cotton sheets and wool blankets for the Pēpi Pods. Taranaki Health Foundation is about fundraising for projects that contribute to health in Taranaki, but it’s not just about dollars and cents. There are other ways for people to contribute to the wellbeing of others through their talents, skills and resources, and this initiative – connecting people who love sewing and knitting – is the perfect example,” Bry says.

The hand-made blankets and sheets, made from natural materials so they are breathable, need to be 70cm wide and 70cm long. People wanting to donate wool, blankets or sheets can call the Foundation on (06) 753 8688 and they will arrange for the items to be picked up. This pick-up service will be offered at Alert Level 2, to ensure the protection of volunteers, patients and staff.

Bry was heartened by the enthusiasm the women from Mahia Mai A Whai Tara had in sewing the baby sheets.
“They are made with love.”
Kapuakore Harlow jumped at the chance to put her sewing skills to good use.

“I hadn’t done any sewing for some time, but I had the machine sitting there. I got it oiled, so I could be ready to start sewing these sheets,” she said.

Mahia Mai A Whai Tara’s mission is to “help and encourage all kaumatua/ seniors to celebrate their good health, rejoice in their ability to be independent and contribute to the society while supporting the generations behind them to be strong individuals”.

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