New Zealand College of Sexual & Reproductive Health

Abortion Training

Module 3: Early surgical abortion theory

2. Tikanga in early surgical abortion care

When providing care for people seeking an early surgical abortion, try to use key terms that are relevant to their spoken/preferred language; this includes te reo. In Te Reo Māori, “tahe” and “whakatahe” are words for abortion. For Māori, the concept of abortion is not a modern thing, and like many other cultures there are traditional methods for ending a pregnancy. Colonisation brought different attitudes towards abortion. Now, just as Māori people are diverse, so too are Māori perspectives on abortion.

Abortion providers must support people having an abortion to uphold and apply their tikanga Māori (cultural practice).

For an early surgical abortion consider:

  • The physical transition from waiting areas to areas where consultation/ abortion occur. In particular, separating Noa (ordinariness) from Tapu (sacredness).
  • The right to Karakia (prayer) should be offered and facilitated. This can be done in many ways; if the person does not have someone to say a Karakia then we have provided you with an example (below), or if their support person is available on the phone then put them on speakerphone.
  • The ability to offer Whānau support throughout the process, whilst maintaining confidentiality. Always ask the patient about their wish/need for Whānau involvement and facilitate their wishes.
  • Be respectful of Taonga (valuables worn with spiritual significance) this is especially critical if you are in a theatre setting and removing them. Ensure your service has appropriate policies and follow these.
  • The ability to wash after the procedure
  • Support of Kai Atawhai (return of pregnancy tissue to cultural land) and facilitation of this if the patient is unable
  • Audit your practice and make sure Māori wāhine are receiving equitable access and care

For further information, click here.

Made with by the bpacnz team

Partner links