NZ School Nurses

An update on the Ikura - Manaakitia te whare tangata – Period products in schools initiative

Below is an update on the next phase of the Ikura | Manaakitia te whare tangata – Period products in schools initiative from the Ministry of Education: 

As part of the transition to Phase Two we are partnering with Essity who manufacture Libra period products and well-known bathrooms supplies through one of their other brands, Tork. Essity will be working with OfficeMax who many schools already have accounts with. Schools will order product from the OfficeMax portal and they will manage distribution.

As well as this new ordering system, schools and kura with a high number of menstruating ākonga are eligible for dispenser units. This will support ākonga to discretely access product, alongside having products available for collection from central points at the school. This means ākonga will have enough product to take home to manage their full cycle, and product to access in situations where they are caught out.

The transition to the new supplier ordering system and installation of dispensers in schools is being phased. So far our suppliers have contacted around 200 schools and kura and we aim to have installations in eligible schools complete by the end of Term 2. Schools who are not eligible for dispenser units will continue to order product from Down the Back of the Chair until transitioning to the new ordering portal. It is anticipated that all schools and kura will be ordering from the OfficeMax portal by the end of Term 3.

We celebrate entering the next phase of the initiative with the launch of our new ingoa (name): Ikura | Manaakitia te whare tangata. Ikura links back to the ancient Māori name for menstruation which connects traditional beliefs about the mana and tapu (sacredness) of women and menstrual blood. It is really important to us that the next phase focusses on destigmatising periods for ākonga. We believe ākonga from Fairfield College summed it up nicely: 

“we’re not getting a Māori name because we want to target Māori students and put them on the spotlight, but because we want to get rid of the stigma around periods and restore the mana and the traditional idea that having your period should be a celebration.” 

More information on the te reo māori ingoa is available on our website.

Lastly, we are also exploring how we can strengthen wider education on periods for learners and the adults around them. We have gone to tender for an education supplier to develop some student facing resources and in the meantime we have developed a suite a educational posters for schools to order via both BlueStar and OfficeMax. These will be available to order in the next few weeks and we will be encouraging schools to put them up in the hallways, classrooms and bathroom cubicles to start the conversation and work towards normalising periods. 

If you have any feedback on the initiative in general, all feedback can be directed to: accesstoperiodproducts@education.govt.nz

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(As NZSN, we love the quote from the Fairfield College student! We believe strongly in reducing avoidable causes for absence/truancy in school, so that young people can get the very best education and start in life and ergo we are supportive of the Ikura - Manaakitia te whare tangata – Period products in schools initiative and have provided our feedback on the initiative directly to the MoE via email).