Dr David Tipene-Leach, or DTL as he is known by many, is a GP known for his innovative public health projects on prevention of long-term conditions such as diabetes and sudden unexplained death in infancy. When he talks about SUDI he often describes this as his “best piece of work” which was to develop and champion the wahakura, a woven flax bassinet that allows Māori mums to share a bed safely with their newborns. The “safe sleep” programme that has flourished around the wahakura – and a plastic version, the pepi-pod – is credited with decreasing SUDI deaths by 30 per cent in just six years.
DTL was up until recently a GP in the Hawkes Bay Community. DTL spent 14 years as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland and a short time ago he took up a position as a Professor of Māori and Indigenous Research at the Eastern Institute of Technology.
Lately things have moved quickly for DTL he has been appointed to a new group to advise Health Minister David Clark on the health system, he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to Māori Health and at the Te ORA Hui-a-Tau 2017 in Porirua he was elected to the Te ORA Kaihautū/Chairperson.