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Working together to increase the number of Pacific and Māori midwives

National Pacific Lead, AUT’s Ngatepaeru Marsters, and National Māori Lead, AUT’s Teresa Krishnan.

Under a new government initiative, New Zealand’s five midwifery education providers will work together to support the success of Māori and Pasifika students and increase the number of midwives in our Pacific and Māori communities.

Te Ara ō Hine for Māori and Tapu Ora for Pasifika will be developed by Māori and Pacific midwifery educators, students, new graduates and stakeholders from Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, Otago Polytechnic, Ara Institute of Canterbury (Ara) and Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec). AUT holds the contract with the Ministry of Health and will have a memorandum of understanding with the four other education providers.

The Ministry has provided $6 million in funding over the next four years for a liaison person at each institution to provide wrap around care, academic support and to actively recruit Māori and Pacific students. There will also be a discretionary hardship fund for students in need, and support to attend nationwide hui and fono for networking. An additional $370,000, which was contributed in 2019 for Pacific midwifery and nursing undergraduate support, will go towards this initiative.

Te Ara ō Hine – Tapu Ora will help to address a serious shortage of Māori and Pacific midwives. Less than 10% of midwives identify Māori as their first, second, or third ethnicity and less than 3% as Pacific. Yet the population of women giving birth is 20% Māori and 10% Pacific (rising to 27% in South Auckland).

National Māori Lead, AUT’s Teresa Krishnan, says, recruiting Māori and Pacific midwifery students is an important way to address these inequities.

“We’re aiming to triple the number of Māori and quadruple the number of Pacific undergraduate midwifery students year on year for the next five years. We will then see them through to a successful graduation. This generous funding enables us to continue our mahi to achieve those outcomes.”

National Pacific Lead, AUT’s Ngatepaeru Marsters, says, “Research shows that a workforce which reflects its community results in a positive impact on outcomes. Each midwifery education school will develop their own regional strategy.”

A nationwide recruitment drive for prospective students will run from April to December. Krishnan says, “We want Māori and Pacific students thinking about a midwifery career to know they will be supported in their study to graduate and go on to a deeply rewarding career that makes an overwhelming positive difference to whanau, communities and Aotearoa as a whole.”

The Ara ō Hine – Tapu Ora aligns with Whakamaua, the Māori Health Action Plan and Ola Manuia, the Pacific Health and Wellbeing 2020 – 2025 Action Plan. It was also one of the actions agreed to in the Midwifery Workforce Accord in 2019, which was to better support midwives in training, particularly Māori and Pacific.

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