How Hapū Māmā are Giving Up Smoking, With the Help of Augmented Reality and Wānanga

Patrick Salmon is committed to helping hapū māmā quit smoking. He does it, because it needs to be done. With a Masters degree in Applied Indigenous Knowledge, specialising in Indigenous Innovation, Salmon created and designed Heru & Hapū Māmā, a wellbeing program featuring augmented reality and face-to-face wānanga that supports pregnant women to quit smoking.


We speak to Salmon ahead of World Smoke Free Day, to discuss the harm that comes from smoking during pregnancy, Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy (SUDI), and how Heru & Hapū Māmā is tailored not just to help māmā quit smoking, but be the best they can be.

We know that smoking cigarettes during pregnancy can harm baby’s health as the poisons from smoking reach baby through the placenta. Hapū māmā who smoke put their pēpi at increased risk of being born at a dangerously low birth weight, being born prematurely, health problems like pneumonia, asthma, glue ear and dying of SUDI.


As a father-of-five, Salmon saw the SUDI rates rising, and he wanted to do something about it. Salmon explains that “maternal smoking and poverty continue to be primary causes of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) in New Zealand” so he saw the need and felt a “cultural obligation to create a solution.”


And so, Heru & Hapū Māmā was born. Wanting to not only help hapū māmā quit smoking, but also create a supportive experience, Salmon says his tamariki/children were his inspiration “I am inspired to create a supportive experience because of my own daughters. I would hope that they have an extremely positive experience in their own pregnancy journeys.”


Salmon has history with SMOKEFREE as a former Cessation Practitioner for AKP (Aukati Kaipaipa). It was here that he helped to establish the tribal smoke free initiative “Auahi Kore Ngati Awa 2020”, that looked at all smoke free supportive policies within Ngati Awa establishments and organisations, so it comes as no surprise that he would continue helping whānau to quit smoking.


While there are many programs that work to help pregnant women stop smoking, Heru & Hapū Māmā is unique. Māori led, and designed to educate, uplift and entertain, Salmon explains that Heru & Hapū Māmā blends “tāonga and technology that support cultural narratives, practices and beliefs”.


Using an app called KAIRUA, hapū māmā can initiate an augmented reality experience where they will find six modules and a digital forum. The program supports māmā, not just to quit smoking, but to become the best they can be. Giving up smoking, birth education, safe sleep and the impacts of smoking during pregnancy are all part of the program, as well as face-to-face Wānanga and Digi-Wā (digital wānanga).


When asked about the success rate, Salmon is proud to say that the Heru & Hapū Māmā program has a 90% quit rate average over the duration of the program. There are also plenty of māmā willing to share their stories and their successes here.


If you’re interested in Heru & Hapū Māmā you can speak with your local iwi service provider, your midwife or your closest birth education service provider.


It’s never too late to quit smoking for your baby. Quitting now will make your baby healthier and it also means you’re likely to live a longer, healthier life as a māmā.