Boosting Māori and Pasifika midwifery workforce


A new initiative that aims to retain and attract more Māori and Pasifika midwives into the profession has been launched.

Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall made the announcement at the Auckland University of Technology campus today.

“There is undoubtedly pressure on midwives around the country. For too long we’ve relied on international recruitment for a quick fix. But COVID-19 has highlighted the importance growing our own workforce,” Dr Ayesha Verrall said.

“It’s also really important that we ensure that we are strategic about how we increase the number of midwives to make sure that it reflects the diversity of the mothers, babies and whānau they care for. In particular, we know that Māori and Pasifika midwives are under-represented. Only about 10% of the total midwifery workforce are Māori and under 3% are Pasifika, while 20% of women giving birth are Māori and 10% are Pasifika.

“Last year saw the largest ever funding boost for primary maternity services, including targeted funding to recognise the work midwives do when caring for women living rurally, and those who have high-needs pregnancies.

“Part of the investment is funding to increase the number of midwifes and ensure the workforce is representative of the populations they’re serving. We know that since 2010, only around 50 percent of new Māori enrolments lead to a qualification. For Pasifika students, it’s only about 3 percent of the total moving through to gaining a midwifery qualification.”

The te ara ō Hine programme launched today funds a student support/pastoral care lead at each of the five midwifery education providers [Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka, Otago Polytechnic, Ara Institute of Canterbury (Ara) and Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec)]. They will provide care, academic support and focus on actively recruiting new Māori and Pacific midwifery students.

“There is also a discretionary hardship fund for students who need help with costs such as transport to patient appointments and births, childcare which they would often have to organise at short notice and support to attend nationwide hui and fono for networking.

“This initiative is one of the actions to come from the Midwifery Workforce Accord; a commitment between government, district health boards and midwifery unions to ensure better support for midwives. The other commitments include creating more initiatives for recruitment and retention, safe staffing in maternity units and increasing the number of new graduate midwives choosing employment with DHBs. 

“The Accord, and te ara ō Hine, are both a result of the strong leadership within the sector and their dedication to making improvements across the service,” Dr Ayesha Verrall said.