Breathing Life Back Into Midwifery in Aotearoa

Jacqueline Martin - IIRC20
Friday, November 20, 2020

Haramai e tama puritia te aka matua

Amster Reedy uses this kiwaha as a reference to “philosophy and practice adding when the philosophy is right, the practice will be Right” (Reedy, 2011). This emerging model of kaitiakitanga recognizes the colonization of midwifery upon whānau and hapū of Aotearoa New Zealand and proposes to effect change into the midwifery profession, one midwife at a time.

Birth is a universal event, but it is experienced differently by different women, whānau and midwives in the birthing space. Birth is influenced by the sociopolitical context of each nation. Midwives play a pivotal role in the lives of all women and peoples. Their influence cannot be underestimated. In New Zealand the midwifery profession is based on Eurocentric ideologies and in fact, all midwives are registered to become European trained midwives, irrespective of cultural differences.

This presentation will share a model of understanding called Ko te Hā tuatahi o Te Ira Tangata (the first breath of humankind) which reflects the inherent values of mātauranga Māori to be instructive in the education of wāhine Māori and all women entering the midwifery workforce of Aotearoa New Zealand. It will be argued that the provision for culturally responsive supervision within the New Zealand midwifery context for Māori midwives is a timely intervention for creating professional spaces to empower Māori midwives to remain in a profession that silences our voices. 

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