Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy or SUDI kills 40 to 50 babies a year, and the risk is higher for those whose parents smoke or sleep beside them.

The Moe Ora programme is set to provide 300 wahakura, safe sleeping baskets, to babies most at risk and provide greater support to help parents quit smoking.

Fay Selby-Law from the national SUDI prevention service Hāpai Te Hauora said about 39 percent of Māori women who are pregnant are smokers.

"We know that Māori women are the highest smokers in the world and we know that Māori ... women who are hapū, are still continuing to smoke.

"What we're trying to do is to support them to make that change."

"It's not easy, it's an addiction, it's a habit, it's often - when you're a māmā it's the thing you do for yourself, it might be the only thing that you do for yourself."

Leith Porter-Samuels knows first-hand what it's like to lose someone from SUDI. She remembers the life-changing moment her baby nephew lost his life to SUDI, or cot death as it was formerly known, when she was 17 years old.

That terrible loss was not her first. The former midwife lost another in 1988 - it was the first baby she helped deliver to the world.

"It's not an isolated incident, we've all had losses and we want to be able to contribute with all that we have.

"It's about the whole whānau, the person that's gone is gone [and] the devastation is left behind. Then you've got mental health issues and so the issues carry on."

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