Kahu Taurima - Maternity and Early Years  


Kahu Taurima is the joint Te Aka Whai Ora and Te Whatu Ora approach to maternity and early years (pre-conception to five years old, or the 'First 2000 days of life') for all whānau in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

The ingoa name 'Kahu Taurima' has many connections to maternity and early years - 'Kahu' speaks to the korowai of services and support that wraps around whānau as well as an alignment to He Korowai Oranga. 'Taurima' speaks to caring, nurturing, and fostering our most cherished pēpi, tamariki and whānau. The tohu symbol reflects hapūtanga, protection, development, and growth, representing the connection between māmā and pēpi.  

A priority in Te Pae Tata, the interim New Zealand Health Plan, Kahu Taurima has a change programme that will:

  • shift the system settings
  • redesign the model of care and service delivery models
  • ensure health is making its greatest contribution. 

Kahu Taurima will drive the creation of whānau centred service delivery through the redesign and integration of maternity and early years services, for a child’s first 2000 days from conception to five years old, across Aotearoa. It will:

  • remove the barriers and silos
  • integrate our primary care, community and specialist services to improve quality, safety and equity of outcomes
  • deliver excellent, well connected, easy to navigate, culturally affirming health services for all wāhine and whānau, no matter who they are, and wherever they are
  • become easier to access wrap-around services and extra support when needed.    

To support the transformation, the Kahu Taurima team will commission new, integrated, interprofessional, culturally tailored maternity and early years service delivery models. These service delivery models will contribute to achieving consistency in national service delivery while enabling local tailoring to support whānau aspirations and goals, which will be achieved by working with whānau, communities, Hauora Māori Partners, and service providers across the motu. 

Why Kahu Taurima is needed 

In Aotearoa we have more than 60,000 babies born each year - so over 60,000 opportunities to support a healthier future for whānau.

Kahu Taurima will focus on our pēpi, tamariki, and support for strong, healthy, empowered whānau, ensuring whānau are well informed about their options and the standard of care they can expect to receive.

The first 2000 days lay the foundation for a child’s entire future; it is a critical period that impacts lifetime health and wellbeing. Evidence shows that by investing in whānau both antenatally and in the early years of life, we can make the biggest difference to lifelong and intergenerational wellbeing. Most brain development happens in the early years and this is influenced by the environment in which tamariki are brought up in and nurtured. 

Mātauranga Māori, along with conventional published evidence, shows the benefits of investing in, and for, the 'first 2000 days of life' - so that every child has the strongest start to life. This means whānau having a range of support easily available to them when they are welcoming pepī, and raising tamariki during their early years. 

With whānau at the centre

In regards to maternity and early years services, we got input from whānau that:

  • Parents experience racism, discrimination and ablism in service delivery, particularly if they are young, Māori, Pacific, or an ethnic minority 
  • There are barriers for whānau wanting to access the right learnings on their maternity and early years journey
  • Disabled parents, or whānau welcoming babies with impairments, want to be better supported and affirmed, and also be free of discrimination and ablism when they access care
  • Whānau who experience distress or bereavement during their maternity and early years journey want support that helps to care for their wellbeing
  • Rural whānau want clearer pathways to access to primary and specialised maternity and early years care. 

These findings and recommendations came from the Well Child Tamariki Ora Review, the Maternity Action Plan, the Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee (PMMRC), the National Maternity Monitoring Group (NMMG), as well as learnings from holistic models and pilots, including Enhanced Support Pilots, Place Based Initiatives, hāpu wānanga, and a nurse family partnership pilot. 

Kahu Taurima will fundamentally work in a different way to reconfigure maternity and early years services and supports, to address issues such as above, and dramatically improve the experiences and journey of care for whānau at this important time of their lives.

What is changing? 

All publicly funded maternity and early years health services, from conception to five years old, are included in the reform. This includes primary, community, hospital and specialist services and supports, such as but not limited to: community midwifery services, Well Child Tamariki Ora services, antenatal care, Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) prevention, smoking prevention, Before School Checks, early years social work, kaiāwhina services, primary maternal health, and health promotion for whānau. 

Kahu Taurima will also work with general practice, hauora Māori partners, Pacific providers, childhood immunisation services, specialist obstetric and paediatric services, specialist maternal and child mental health, ultrasound, and other diagnostics, to ensure they are able to support improved outcomes. 

Te ao Māori solutions

Developing more te ao Māori solutions of integrated interprofessional maternity and early years health services and supports is essential, and will increase the range of options available to whānau.   

By having more Hauora Māori Partners, who provide a range of care that is culturally responsive, whānau are more likely to access the support that suits them best, allowing them to kōrero about any health concerns with a trusted provider at an early stage.   

Our Te Aka Whai Ora Kahu Taurima commissioning approach with Hauora Māori Partners means that more whānau will have access to te ao Māori solutions and Kahu Taurima services where mātauranga Māori sets the foundations of hauora Māori, informing strategic direction and implementation. Services will prioritise whānau ora, be strengths based and wellbeing focused; culturally responsive, creating and maintaining trusting relationships; and improve access to integrated, effective, earlier, and easier interprofessional care in communities. They will be locally determined, designed, and delivered to optimise the development of mokopuna and enable whānau health, wellbeing, aspirations, and goals.

Te Aka Whai Ora has prioritised funding to support the delivery of te ao Māori solutions for maternity and early years services and supports. This is an exciting opportunity for Hauora Māori Partners to change the face of healthcare in Aotearoa to reflect te ao Māori. 

If you have pātai about the Kahu Taurima funding opportunities, or how Kahu Taurima is expanding te ao Māori solutions, please get in touch with us at: teakawhaiora.kahutaurima@health.govt.nz   

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