The first 1,000 days of a child’s life lay the foundations for their entire future. The clock starts at conception and runs to the child’s second birthday.
We take a life-course approach to health promotion. That means focusing on a healthy start to life and targeting a person’s needs at critical points across their lifetime to keep them well, rather than just responding when they are already sick.
For the First 1,000 Days programme, that means focusing on quality of life for mothers and babies, so they get equitable outcomes from generation to generation.
The programme also embraces the wider whānau because whānau and child wellbeing are interdependent.
More about the programme
First 1,000 Days Community Grants
In 2022 close to $1.5 million was allocated to nationwide projects to uplift generations of mothers, babies and whānau in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.
We are supporting 18 community-led innovations that are doing bold, new, things around pre-conception, contraception, maternal mental health, pregnancy or baby’s first two years. These community-driven solutions will meet community and whānau need, and are led by champions who know what works for their own people.
Over time valuable lessons will come out of these projects. We will work with communities to showcase their successes and insights so their localised expertise can play a part in influencing change nationwide, and most importantly, for generations of whānau to come.
The full list of grant recipients for the 2022 funding is available on this page.
Community partnerships and innovation
Ngā Wānanga o Hine Kōpū (Te Tai Tokerau | Northland)
Ngā Wānanga o Hine Kōpū is a free kaupapa Māori labour, birth and parenting programme. It delivers Māori antenatal knowledge, drawing on mātauranga Māori, to wāhine hapū and their whānau.
In late 2021 a short film, Ngā Wānanga o Hine Kōpū created by Te Hiringa Hauora in partnership with The Spinoff, featured hapū māmā (pregnant mothers), fathers and whānau as they explored, learned and gained confidence through the wānanga.
Now an independent evaluation of the wānanga, echoes the voices of whānau who said Hine Kōpū awoke in them a spirit of self-determination. A summary of the evaluation by Kataraina Pipi, Kate McKegg and Huhana Moselen shows Hine Kōpū is about much more than parents learning information that is deemed clinically important for good birth outcomes.
Instead, Hine Kōpū is a shared whānau experience of healing, connecting and exploring. It is about reclaiming Māori identity, cultural confidence and giving rise to tino rangatiratanga in the birthing experience. There is evidence of this confidence flowing through into whānau identifying their own aspirations for their future. The wānanga is transforming lives, far beyond the outcomes expected in the mainstream antenatal education service. Read the report.
Hakeke Productions – Raro Timu, Raro Take (South Island | Te Wai Pounamu)
We are supporting Hakeke Productions on work to revitalise customary birthing practices in Te Wai Pounamu. This includes the development of the Hākui website which was launched in November 2021.
Hākui connects Ngāi Tahu whānau and Māori midwives in Te Waipounamu with tīpuna knowledge about pregnancy and birth, including miscarriage and still birth. Hākui is the Ngāi Tahu word for mother.
Tūpuna Parenting (Nationwide)
The Tūpuna Parenting movement shares knowledge about the gentle and respectful ways of tūpuna Māori and their approaches to raising children from pre-European and early contact periods, as an inspiration for modern day parenting.
Previously we supported the development of the Tūpuna Parenting website which was launched in November 2021.
This year we are supporting Tūpuna Parenting to capture pūrakau (stories) from kaumātua and kuia about their memories of gentle and nurturing Māori parenting.
Moana Connect Maternal and Infant Wellbeing (Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland)
Moana Connect's team of researchers and clinicians provide evidence-based resources and support to Pacific parents and aiga.
We are supporting them to develop videos and resources, provide information and aid talanoa about infant care and attachment, maternal mental wellbeing and help-seeking, and safe sleep, all from a Pacific worldview.
Learning from community during the pandemic (Nationwide)
Psychosocial responses to the 2020/2021 COVID-19 lockdowns created opportunities for community partnerships to not only support women through the pandemic but also to explore:
- what it takes to work effectively with change-makers in communities
- the power of mātauranga Māori to support maternal wellbeing.
This report influences our work, especially in relation to the First 1,000 Days strategy.
Resources and tools
Many innovative community resources, tools and initiatives play an important part in advocating for and driving change across the health system and the practice of those working in the sector. Others are designed to support whānau and communities to strengthen their own wellbeing. They include:
- Fill Your Kapu While You’re Hapū, online maternal mental wellbeing series of Māori and Pasifika women sharing their experience and resilience.
- Manaaki Tamariki – Kia au tō moe, a toolkit on safe and healthy sleep for babies and young children to support health professionals who work with Māori and Pasifika parents and caregivers.
- Alcohol.org.org which provides information to wāhine hapū and those who support them about alcohol free pregnancies.
- Mana Pasifika, which builds on the success of the 2020 campaign which told stories of hope and resilience, we are continuing to work on this kaupapa.
- He Kai Kei āku Ringa, a partnership with Toi Tāngata to develop resources around every day kai.
- Immunisation, created to provide resources to support the Ministry of Health’s National Immunisation programme.
- HealthEd (healthed.govt.nz), New Zealand’s largest collection of prevention-focused public health information resources. It is available for health professionals and the public to access free of charge.
Pre pregnancy and contraception
The time before conception is important. It is a period to secure the wellbeing of future parents, so that if a pregnancy does happen, the first 1,000 days have the best chance of being positive for both the parents and the child.
In the past, we largely focused on preventing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), and alcohol-free pregnancies. While these kaupapa are still important, the way we approach them has changed.
We are shifting from messages aimed at individuals to supporting whole communities to develop solutions to reduce alcohol harm and improve maternal wellbeing. Alcohol.org.nz will still provide up-to-date evidence and online learning opportunities about preventing FASD.
We have expanded our work to include a focus on equitable access to contraception. These are some of the projects happening in this area:
- Tapu Vā (tapu-va.nz) is a website through which Pasifika peoples are encouraged to join the talanoa about Pacific attitudes to sex, its tapu nature, their own experiences and their aspirations for their communities’ sexual health. There are also videos of young Pasifika people talking about their aspirations for Pacific sexual health.
- “Ai, Let’s talk about sex” is a digital video series of 14 episodes. It features young, bilingual, Māori panellists discussing a wide range of topics to do with Māori sexual and reproductive health.
- ‘Whare Tangata’ is an online series in which Māori women discuss their experiences, questions and use of contraception. Māori mothers sit down for a cuppa with obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Kasey Tawhara (Ngāti Raukawa) and Kahurangi Milne, founder of private online community of 5000+ Māori mothers, Kia Ora Māmā. Together they talk openly about a kaupapa that is often clouded in secrecy and shame. They do so in the hope of changing things for other women, and their whānau, in the future. Produced by Arataua Media.
Maternal mental wellbeing
Becoming a parent can be a hopeful time for change. It can also ramp up a parent’s stress, anxiety or bring up old trauma. Children’s wellbeing depends on adults’ wellbeing.
Mental wellbeing for all New Zealanders is a high priority for us. It informs all priority areas and maternal mental health is a particular area of focus for the First 1,000 Days programme.
Several partnership projects are building our kete of resources and influence to support maternal wellbeing.
- The Helen Clark Foundation to advance recommendations from the Āhurutia Te Rito | It takes a village report on how better support for perinatal mental health could transform communities in Aotearoa New Zealand
- Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Aotearoa (PADA) to host a Pasifika fono to provide professional development for those supporting Pasifika families in the early years
- Supporting PADA to host a perinatal mental wellbeing hui which will focus on restoring traditional knowledge in a modern world.
- Further exploration on how to implement next steps from Mai te whai-ao ki to ao Mārama. Coming into the light – Mothers’ experiences of distress and wellbeing during pregnancy and the first year of motherhood.
- Capturing women’s stories of distress and resilience to support conversations around how the system can better support women and whānau.
- Improving perinatal content as part of the Depression.org refresh.
We work with the Ministry of Health's immunisation team to provide communications and marketing support for its National Immunisation Programme.
Throughout the year - and in response - to disease outbreaks, we promote immunisations for babies, children, adolescents and adults including pregnant women.
The gap between immunisation rates of Māori, Pasifika and other ethnicities has widened in recent years. We are working on targeted efforts to support Māori and Pasifika confidence in, and access to, immunisation.
We are working with Māori researchers to better understand Māori communities’ experiences of childhood immunisation and identify what discourages, or encourages, families to immunise their children. The research will be used to develop tools to support the Ministry and the wider sector, in their work for and with Māori families who are making decisions about childhood immunisations.