Wāhine toa star in new breast cancer campaign using the power of poetry
Spoken word poets Ngā Hinepūkōrero have teamed up with Breast Cancer Foundation NZ to release a new poem highlighting the importance of mammograms this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The poem, called Ahi Kā, is performed by the group in television and radio advertisements launching today. It draws on the Māori worldview (te ao Māori) of body positivity to encourage women to get a mammogram.
Arihia Hall of Ngā Hinepūkōrero said: “The way wāhine Māori feel about our bodies has changed throughout generations. From our ancestors’ respect for their bodies, to our grandmothers’ feelings of shame and unacceptance, to the current generation’s reclamation of te ao Māori attitudes towards the body, and the love that comes from that.
“Our poem tells the story of wāhine Māori and their journey back to respecting their breasts. We’re thrilled to be part of this national campaign, encouraging women to honour their whakapapa by loving their breasts and getting a mammogram.”
Ah-Leen Rayner, chief executive of Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, said: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in Aotearoa, accounting for more than 650 deaths every year. Our annual awareness campaign seeks to lower these deaths and this year, we’re honoured to have the power of Ngā Hinepūkōrero’s poetry delivering a message that speaks to all Kiwi women.
“Regular mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, before a lump or other symptoms appear. The sooner it’s detected, the more treatable breast cancer is, making it highly survivable. So please, don’t put off having your mammogram, because it could save your life.”
Breast Cancer Foundation NZ recommends considering annual mammograms from 40-49, then every two years from 50. Free mammograms through BreastScreen Aotearoa are available for women aged 45-69 and can be booked by calling