Progress on Hawke’s Bay Māori birthing unit sluggish

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Photo / File

Through a critical review into racial discrimination in Hawke’s Bay maternity, the progress on seeing a key-recommended Māori birthing unit is almost nil.

The recommendation came after the review, based on how Hawke’s Bay Hospital had treated whānau Māori in maternity care, showed whānau were disrespected and shown cruelty which resulted in them not trusting the service.

In June 2022, the review was released to the public. A key recommendation from it suggested a Ngāti Kahungunu centric birthing unit that could be culturally safe for hapū māmā.

Local midwife Jean Te Huia, an advocate for the unit, says Māori currently being born are not being served by the system. The inspiration came after Te Huia visited the Toronto Birthing Centre in Canada which is led by indigenous midwives.

“I believe that is an opportunity that we, here in New Zealand can do. It does culturally meet the needs of the women that birth there - it provides them with an individual service that caters to her need. It's not a standardised midwifery service."

Responding to the needs of Māori whānau is currently the responsibility of Te Aka Whai Ora (the Māori Health Authority).

A spokesman for the organisation said in a statement that Kahu Taurima (maternity and early years team) planned to issue a request for submissions for new ideas in the coming year, including mātauranga Māori solutions that might present potential for these kinds of concepts.

- report by RNZ.