• Baby Harper's placenta will be buried in the earth, as per the 'whenua' Maori tradition, connecting the baby to the land. (Facebook: Emma Jean Photography)
Mothers from Australia and New Zealand are sharing their touching stories about their connection to their culture and land through a tradition of burying a baby's placenta at home.
By
Lucinda Kent

5 Jan 2016 - 3:37 PM  UPDATED 6 Jan 2016 - 5:31 PM

A photo of a newborn baby and his placenta is being shared on Facebook, with mothers reflecting on the Maori tradition of burying afterbirth.

The photo of baby Harper taken by Australian photographer Emma Jean is accompanied with information about 'whenua' (which means both earth and placenta), the Maori tradition of returning the placenta and pito (umbilical cord) to the land.

The post struck a cord with many mothers in Australia and New Zealand who described burying their babies' placentas at their own home, or their family homes.

"I have two beautiful Maori babies Nevaeh Te kapua Hou and Manaia Elizabeth Ivy both whenua were buried on family land under heritage trees as we couldn't get the whenua returned to the home land... but on sunrise they were placed deep within the tree roots," wrote Rhia Ashton.

"We just buried our two girls Placentas yesterday (2/1/16) at a reserve in a forest named after my papa. We marked them with two pohutukawa maori princess trees," wrote Rebecca Wright.

Some mothers whose babies were born in Australia have their placenta shipped home to New Zealand to connect their children to their roots.

"My oldest childs whenua is buried with my older brother and our great grandparents in Rotorua... My 2nd borns is buried with my Koro in Awahou and my baby was born in Australia so her whenua was on ice until we brought it home to Rotorua and buried it with her namsake at Tarawhai Rotoiti," wrote Ngahuia Morgan-Kora.

"My daughter is half Australian half Maori because she was born here I explained to my inlaws on this very tradition we have they were blown away. So we buried her whenua here in Aussie and took her pito home so she is grounded in both of her countries," wrote Shandy Johnson.

Kia ora, little ones.