New initiative to increase Pacific midwives another step towards equity

Ngatepaeru Marsters
Member, Pasifika Medical Association (PMA)

The injection of $6 million by the New Zealand Government to attract and retain more Pacific and Māori midwives as well as address racial inequalities has been welcomed by a senior Pacific midwife and member of the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA), Ngatepaeru Marsters.

Of the country’s 3100 midwives, only 2.6 per cent are Pacific (about 90 midwives) while Pacific make up 10 per cent of women giving birth. In the Counties/Manukau area, 27 per cent of women giving birth are Pacific.

The announcement, made by Associate Minister of Health, Dr Ayesha Verrall at the Auckland University of Technology campus in Manukau on Tuesday, aims to see New Zealand’s five midwifery education providers work together to address the shortage.

“This is an important health strategy,” says Marsters, AUT’s Pasifika liaison for midwifery.

“Midwifes have a long relationship with their families and will often look after the extended family as well.  Having more Pacific midwives will address the health disparities as they will carry health key messages during their visits and appointments, such as messaging around nutrition, mental health services, healthy homes and other social services.”

The initiative will be developed by Pacific and Māori midwifery educators, students, and graduates.

Marsters says a career in midwifery is deeply rewarding and she encourages more of our Pacific to enrol.

‘We are working on increasing the intake and improving the admissions process. We will try to take away the bureaucratic, organisational, cultural and curriculum barriers to enable Pacific achievement”.

Marsters also comments that “Many become midwives because they have had their own positive experiences with midwives during their parenthood journey. It’s a calling to serve our people. It gives them a deeper appreciation of how special they are and an awareness of how many more of them we need.

People think being a midwife is just about supporting a family having their baby, but it comes with a whole raft of other things, especially when you have that Pacific lens.  You have a long-term relationship with families, and it gives them the confidence that they can trust you and that you are there to support them.”


Date: Wednesday 31 March 2021