The Māori word 'whenua' means both land and placenta. By a longstanding custom, the placenta of a newborn child is buried on their tūrangawaewae (the territory to which they have ancestral rights), thus combining both meanings. This 1987 painting by Robyn Kahukiwa, 'Te whenua, te whenua, engari kāore he tūrangawaewae', comments on the suppression of this tradition by European-run maternity hospitals which, at one time, insisted on burning placentas.
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Auckland Art Gallery – Toi o Tāmaki
Artwork by Robyn Kahukiwa
Permission of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki must be obtained before any re-use of this image.