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As published in the Wairarapa Midweek, 5th April 2023.

Wairarapa Hospital has received 50 care packages for grieving whānau, courtesy of Wairarapa pregnancy and baby loss support service Hōkai Tahi.  

Staff, volunteers, and community members spent an afternoon assembling the care packages, delivered to the hospital’s maternity and emergency departments last week – to be delivered to parents bereaved by a miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant loss. 

The packs were made possible by a community grant from trucking company Bapcor NZ, which regularly provides funding to community organisations, and product donations from Wairarapa businesses.  

The care packages include candles, self-care items, painted stones, keepsake momentos, and items for memory-making – including Inkless Print Kits used for gathering hand and foot prints.  

Hōkai Tahi service manager Rebecca Vergunst said the care packages were “a small way to acknowledge the pain families are going through” – and also to acknowledge their babies, even though they were only here a short time.  

“The items included have been carefully chosen to provide care or create memories,” she said.  

“We have included some ideas for whānau to consider how they may want to remember their little one – which is an important part of the grieving journey. When your baby dies, it is hard to think clearly while facing the difficult decisions ahead. You may not feel like making memories of this time but,

in the weeks and months to come, you may really appreciate them.” 

Vergunst said the care packages have received “wonderful feedback” from families.  

“Recently, one mum noted that she didn’t have anything to hold for memories of her little one, due to having an early miscarriage. The care package gave her items to hold close and recall her previous pregnancy. It was so valuable to her.”

Vergunst and the Hōkai Tahi Board were grateful for the support from Bapcor NZ, donated or discounted keepsakes from local businesses: such as self-care products from Carterton Pharmacy, candles from Nōla Candles, and small wooden ornaments from FabLab Masterton. One of Hōkai Tahi’s volunteers, Wendy Baird, painted the river stones.  

The packs also include a SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Dath Charity) information pack, and an invitation for ongoing support with Hōkai Tahi’s baby loss support service.

Hōkai Tahi intends for every woman treated at Wairarapa Hospital who experiences miscarriage or baby loss to receive a care package.  

“One of Hōkai Tahi’s main services is to ensure women are supported through this journey, and their grief is validated,” board chairperson Lucy Griffiths said. 

Requests for a baby loss care package, or for ongoing pregnancy or baby loss support, can be made through Hōkai Tahi’s website: www.hō