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Mercy Hospital and St John have partnered with local weavers to make kete for miscarried babies.
The kete can also be used as ipu whenua (placenta burial boxes) to be buried in a special place following the birth of a baby, which is a customary Maori practice.
St John intensive care paramedic Jeff Aukuso, who initiated the project, said during his time as a paramedic he and his colleagues had attended miscarriages and had resorted to using bio-hazard bags or containers to place miscarried babies in.
"After those incidents, it felt like it wasn’t very dignified."
He received a warm response.
Mercy Hospital mission co-ordinator Alofa Lale said the idea fitted with the hospital’s mission of the "protecting and preserving of life and dignity of life".
"It is a great initiative ... We have been blessed to support Jeff and his vision," she said.
Maori weaver Lucy Smith said she was contacted by the hospital and after a few hui with the hospital and St John about what they wanted the kete to look like, she began weaving.
The final design was biodegradable, and allowed a miscarried baby or placenta to "return to the earth".
She will be paid by the hospital to continue weaving the kete.
Mercy Hospital clinical nurse manager Lorelei Aukuso said the kete would be placed in about 10 ambulances in Dunedin.
It was not a national approach.