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Published Monday 30 Nov 2020

The Wellington region’s most vulnerable infants will now have local access to pasteurised donor breast milk at Wellington Regional Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Pataka Miraka is a long-awaited investment in the long-term health of fragile infants (stock image).

Enabled by support from the Wellington Hospitals Foundation, the ‘Pataka Miraka/Mother’s Milk Bank’ service will begin in early 2021. ‘Pataka Miraka’ means ‘Milk Storehouse’, and sets out what the service will achieve.

“Pre-term infants face significant health challenges, and breast milk is the preferred feeding choice to prevent health complications related to their early birth,” said NICU nurse manager Rosemary Escott.

“Mother’s milk is critical for infants’ growth and development, and protects them from infection. Having this breast milk is a long-awaited investment in the long-term health of these fragile infants, and we are delighted and grateful to the Wellington Hospitals Foundation for funding this new service.”

Pasteurised, donated breastmilk is critical for feeding sick and premature infants when mothers do not have a sufficient milk supply for their infant’s nutritional needs. Pataka Miraka is a continuation of the community support that the Foundation has been providing for the Wellington NICU over the past 10 years.

“Over this time, we have provided the NICU with more than $3 million of much needed medical equipment and we are delighted to continue our ongoing support,” said Wellington Hospitals Foundation chair Bill Day.

“The Foundation’s passion for this project came from learning that many health issues can be linked back to childhood nutrition, and how improvements early on can really impact the lifelong health of people in the community. The Foundation has provided $306,000 to date, and are delighted to be able to fund this new service for the foreseeable future.”

Media contact: Chas Te Runa – 027 230 9571