“Auahi kore (Smoke free) for life” is just one of the many positive messages expressed at the final graduation for the Aukati Kaipaipa mo nga Wahine Hapu (Stop Smoking for Pregnant Women) programme held at Te Hiku Hauora last month.

The programme has supported over 80 hapu wahine on their journey to becoming smoke free since its inception two years ago.

As well as providing support to help stopping smoking, the 12-week programme also gave the women information and advice on health and nutrition, breast feeding, safe sleeping and more.

“We were here to support people” says lead kaimahi Ruby-Anne Reihana. “We want to change the health of our tamariki, for their future, and it all starts with our hapu mama.”

An ex-smoker herself, Ruby-Anne is well aware of what a strong addiction smoking is.

“The wahine were happy to come along, to a friendly environment, non-judgemental environment, to give and receive tautoko from others going through the same thing.”

One of the attendees, a first time mum, began the programme with a Carbon Monoxide reading of 27ppm (which equates to that of a heavy smoker),  and went right down to 2ppm, a non-smokers reading at the end.

Ruby-Anne says, “She impressed me with the attitude of ‘Yes, I’ve been smoking but I’m still coming every week.’ She brought her tane and also encouraged her sister in law to become auahi kore through the programme.”

Each graduate received a taonga (gift) of a locally produced kete and painting, along with gifts for the support kaimahi.

Te Hiku Hauora wish all the hapu mama a safe delivery and a big mihi to all the tane, whanau and midwives for their tautoko, and the service organisations who sent referrals.

“Let’s hope that another one starts up again” says Ruby-Anne, who wished to thank everybody for “making this a beautiful journey.”

If you are hapu and want to stop smoking whilst pregnant, please contact our Aukati Kaipaipa team on 0800 808 4024 or email akp@tehikuhauora.nz