The culmination of months of planning was realised as wāhine of Ngā Maia Māori Midwives Aotearoa, and supporters, were welcomed onto Maungatapu Marae, Tauranga-Moana for their 2023 Hui-a Tau.

Established in 1994 Ngā Maia Māori Midwives ō Aotearoa was formed by Māori midwives, midwifery tutors, and their students, to support each other and address the inequities in maternity services for Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Registered as a charitable trust in 1994, Ngā Maia became recognised in maternity circles as the ‘voice’ for Māori. By 2008 its role was endorsed by the Midwifery Council of New Zealand (MCNZ), the New Zealand College of Midwives (NZCOM), and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG).

“He kahu pōkai mō tēnā, mō tēnā. Māori hands catching Māori babies is central to our philosophy” says Heather Muriwai, Chief Clinical Officer, Midwifery for Te Aka Whai Ora.

Māori whanau feel safe in our hands, there is a cultural understanding what the māmā and her whānau need, Ngā Maia supports this philosophy."

The October hui-a-tau saw its biggest attendance yet with 120 travelling from all over the country to attend. Wāhine who are committed to promoting Māori birthing practices; an opportunity to reconnect, share stories and support each other.

Newly elected chair Lisa Kelly said conference attendance was a mix of midwives and tauira,

“Connecting with other kahu pōkai and listening to the wise words of our kaumātua, ensures we’re on the right path. There’s a lot to do and this gathering is a continuation of our journey” says Lisa.

The plan moving forward is to work on the development of the curriculum for the Bachelor of Sciences, Māori Midwifery, at Te Whare Wananga Awanuiārangi.

“Recruiting into the profession and providing the manaaki needed during training and beyond is key to retaining our midwives. The right support at the right time by Ngā Maia and to be frank the health system will go a long way to keeping women in the profession."

The aim is for Māori whānau to have access to a Māori midwife.

“It’s also about all midwives throughout Aotearoa to practice in a culturally responsive way, which fits with the whānau; tino rangatiratanga at its best," Heather added. 

The 2024 hui will be held in October in Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington).