New Zealand’s prime minister is considering an offer to bury her child’s placenta as part of an ancient indigenous naming ceremony.
Jacinda Ardern, who last month became the first elected leader since the 1990s to announce she was expecting, made history again in New Zealand by becoming the first woman prime minister to speak at the pōwhiri, or welcoming ceremony, in Waitangi on the country’s North Island.
One of Ardern’s closest advisers, Peeni Henare, minister for whānau ora (family health), reportedly suggested she bury her baby’s placenta at Waitangi as part of a Maori custom.
“The fact that the suggestion was made and that there were elders alongside me who really acknowledged that ― it felt like a significant gesture, a really symbolic one, and it meant a lot to me,” said Ardern, who is expecting in June.
“That is something, of course, I would like to talk to my partner, Clarke, about. We haven’t had that opportunity yet.”
In Maori custom, when a baby is born, the whenua, the word for both “land” and “placenta,” is often buried in a place of family significance.
Waitangi is where the treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British Crown and Maori chiefs in 1840. The treaty is of central importance to the history and political constitution of modern New Zealand.
Ardern was speaking at the site as part of a public holiday marking the anniversary of the signing of the treaty.
Ardern, 37, became prime minister in October, breaking a decade of conservative rule while becoming one of the country’s youngest leaders.