26 Sep 2013

Community placenta burials in Nelson

7:12 pm on 26 September 2013

A number of whanau are taking part in a community event in Nelson that adopts the traditional Maori practice of burying the whenua (placenta) in the earth.

Once a year, usually in June, families gather near the Centre of New Zealand hill in Nelson to bury their babies whenua with a tree seedling.

Local midwife Suzi Hume says the project was set up in 2008 in memory of a colleague who was passionate about the practice and its importance for whanau, and says she would offer to bury whenua for parents who had nowhere to do so.

She approached the Nelson District Council, who offered to provide trees to plant, and gained consent from the local Whakatu Marae.

Ms Hume says Maori would traditionally bury the whenua on their family land, but that's not always an option for many people who are renting or plan to move house.

She says those people like the idea of burying the placenta in a community space that they can always go to.

Ms Hume says up to 60 people attended the last event in June.