South Auckland community group making its own sanitary pads

Talking about sanitary products can be a taboo subject.

For some girls, who are too embarrassed to ask their parents for products, it can mean staying away from school.

A south Auckland community group is making its own sanitary pads to help these girls, as well as homeless women who can't afford them.

Liz Kiriona admits she was hesitant when approached about a machine that made sanitary pads from recycled timber pulp. 

"I couldn't picture it, all I could think was sanitary pads, making sanitary pads, I go oh. I sort of backed up a bit," she said.

Ms Kiriona runs a community centre in Wiri helping the homeless. Many of the women she visits can't afford sanitary products. 

"I believe through conversations with some of them was that they were using their clothing, t-shirts, anything they could get they would use."

With them in mind, she decided to give the machine a go and she and the volunteers at the KaWiri centre are now on a mission to make 20,000 pads. 

Kiwi charity group Aid for Periods bought the machine and other resources from an Indian school-drop-out turned inventor, now known world-wide as "pad man". 

Tackling a strict taboo in India he came up with a low-cost, sustainable way for women to have access to sanitary products.

Sheets of timber pulp are put into a blender turning it into fluffy and absorbent padding.

The material is then moulded into shape, wrapped and disinfected in an ultraviolet treatment unit.

Ms Kiriona says they cost just a fraction of those in stores and work just as well.

The pads will be donated to homeless women to restore their dignity. Some pads will also go to schools.

Ms Kiriona says girls are choosing to stay home because they're too embarrassed to ask their parents or don't have money to buy products.

The community centre is looking for volunteers to make the pads as well as donations of timber pulp or money.