What midwives do

Midwives play a vital role in New Zealand’s health care.

They are at the birth of every baby in Aotearoa New Zealand – in homes, in primary maternity units; in hospitals. Walking alongside women, partners and whānau, on their journey through pregnancy to parenthood.

The care from midwives in New Zealand is predominately provided by community-based midwives practising a continuity of care model.

This is supported by employed midwives working in primary, secondary and tertiary maternity facilities.

Midwifery in New Zealand has been an autonomous profession since 1990. The New Zealand College of Midwives held a webinar to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the introduction of the Nurses Amendment act.

Watch the webinar: ‘Embracing midwifery, reflecting on 30 years of midwifery autonomy

Roles in midwifery

 Midwives work in a variety of roles including:

  • Lead Maternity Carer and District Health Board community teams – Community based midwife in urban, rural and remote rural settings
  • Associate/Charge Midwives
  • Diabetes Specialist Midwife
  • Midwifery Educator
  • Pregnancy/Perinatal loss support
  • Lactation Consultant
  • Director of Midwifery
  • Maternity Quality Coordinator
  • Research/Lecturers
  • Midwifery Advisors at the Midwifery Council, Health New Zealand and the Health Quality and Safety Commission

Becoming a midwife

Midwives provide care and support to women, their partners and whānau/family during pregnancy, labour and birth, and for six weeks following the birth.

They also provide wellness and parenting information and education for women and their whānau/families.

Since 1992 Midwifery education has been offered via a four year equivalent, pre-registration Bachelor of Midwifery programme, that can be completed over three years.

There are five accredited pre-registration midwifery programmes currently available in New Zealand and are provided by:

  • Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Auckland
  • Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec), Hamilton
  • Ara Institute of Canterbury (ARA), Christchurch
  • Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin
  • Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington

All the education providers offer post-graduate courses for Registered Midwives. Find out more about study grants and opportunities.

For more information on becoming a midwife in New Zealand, visit:

Te ara ō Hine – Tapu ora

Te ara ō Hine is a new initiative underway to support and increase Māori and Pasifika midwifery students.

The programme will provide pastoral care, academic support, and financial aid to Māori and Pasifika midwifery students across the five midwifery schools in New Zealand: 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).

Funding will enable at least one lead support provider at each of the schools, built-in tutoring and guidance, and annual hui to help build relationships and a national network of Māori and Pasifika students.

The dedicated person/people leading this pastoral and academic support will also focus on actively recruiting new Māori and Pasifika midwifery students.

A discretionary hardship fund will be available to help meet the needs of maternity students while they complete their studies, managed by each of the schools.

Te ara ō Hine aims to address some of the challenges faced for midwifery students during their studies, increase the number of midwives in our workforce, and help ensure that workforce represents the communities our midwives are serving.

The programme is the result of collaboration between the Health New Zealand, midwives, Māori and Pasifika faculty, current students and recent graduates from each of the five schools.

AUT holds the contract with the Health New Zealand and has a memorandum of understanding with the four other education providers.

Midwifery Return to Practice Funding

Find out how this fund can support New Zealand-based midwives who are looking to return to midwifery practice. It is also available to support midwives who have been practicing overseas and are looking to return to practice in Aotearoa New Zealand.


About the fund 

Funding to support former midwives back to practice has been in place since 2021.  Following a review, the level of funding has been increased, and additional support introduced for former midwives returning to practice. 

The refocused approach delivers on the Health Workforce Plan 2023/24 to address current pressures and reduce the gap in the midwifery workforce. 

The fund has two parts: Return to Practice (RTP) and Return to New Zealand Practice. 

The level of funding and recertification requirements vary depending on the length of time away from practice.   


Who can get funding 

To be eligible to apply for funding, you must:  

  • hold New Zealand citizenship or New Zealand residency, and 
  • fall into one of the following categories: 

Return to Practice programme  

Category A 

Midwives who have not practised for less than 3 years 

Not funded  

Midwives in this category are not required to complete a RTP programme.  

Category B 

Midwives who have not practised between 3-5 years 


Includes: APC, Midwifery Standards Review, Pharmacology & prescribing course  

Category C 

Midwives who have not practised between 5-10 years 


Includes: APC, Midwifery Standards Review, MCNZ processing fee, required education courses for RTP1  

Category D 

Midwives who have not practised for more than 10 years 

Up to $7,050 

Will depend on requirements agreed for RTP by Midwifery Council and would be agreed on a case-by-case basis 

Individual costs associated with completing the programme prioritising Māori and Pacific midwives and those living or working rurally 

Up to $5000 per midwife depending on personal circumstance and need.   


1 Pharmacology & Prescribing, Integrated Physiological Birth, Integrated Complicated Pregnancy, Cultural Competence, Examination of the Newborn Theory. 


Return to New Zealand Practice programme 

Category A and B 

Midwives who are returning to NZ within five years 


Includes: APC, Midwifery Standards Review 

Category C 

Midwives who are returning to NZ after more than five years 


Includes: APC, Midwifery Standards Review, required education courses  

Individual costs associated with completing the programme prioritising Māori and Pacific midwives and those living or working rurally 

Up to $5000 per midwife depending on personal circumstance and need.   


Accessing the fund 

Funds are distributed locally 

If you meet the above criteria and are interested in undertaking a RTP programme please contact your local Director of Midwifery (DOM) or RTP lead to discuss your options. You can find their details by contacting your local maternity unit.  

If you are a lead maternity carer undertaking RTP or Return to New Zealand Practice you will require a letter of endorsement from either your local DOM, Ngā Maia lead or NZCOM chair. Please email these to returntomidwifery@tewhatuora.govt.nz 

How we decide who to fund 

Funding will be prioritised to address workforce inequities by prioritising applicants who are Māori or Pacific, and applicants who live or work in rural areas. 


For more information 

If you have any questions about the funding contact your local DOM or RTP lead. For more information about returning to practice please see Te Tatau o te Whare Kahu | Midwifery Council 

Focus on midwifery


Dr Billie Bradford

Billie Bradford is a Lecturer in Midwifery in The School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Practice. She has extensive midwifery experience practicing since 1998.

Billie spent 10 years as a clinical educator teaching obstetric emergency skills management as well as writing maternity policy and protocols at Midcentral Health.

For 10 years Billie was local coordinator for the Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee (PMMRC) leading perinatal mortality review at Midcentral.

This sparked a research interest in stillbirth prevention and maternal perception of fetal movements.

Billie completed a Masters in Midwifery at Victoria University of Wellington in 2014 with a thesis titled 'Maternally Perceived Fetal movements: A qualitative description'. In 2020 she completed a PhD in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at University of Auckland with a thesis titled 'Fetal Movements in Normal and Complicated Pregnancies'.

Billie is an Expert Midwifery Advisor to the Health Disability Commissioner and a Competence Reviewer for the Midwifery Council of New Zealand.

She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) and the Clinical Advisory Board of StillAware. Billie is passionate about perinatal care improvement and the importance of an optimal start to life for lifelong health and wellbeing.

Her ongoing research is focused on fetal wellbeing and stillbirth prevention and in particular on circadian fetal behaviour.

Research and publications

Below are the publications that represent Billie’s research. This research led to the development of the sleep on side campaign.