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My Māori Midwife stars want rates of Māori, Pasifika to match birthing populations

The stars of the My Māori Midwife TV show have welcomed funding to increase the number of Māori and Pasifika midwifery students, saying it’s important for rates of midwives to match the birthing populations in these communities.

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Camille Harris and Waimarie Onekawa say it’s important to bring the number of Māori and Pasifika midwives up to the birthing rates in those communities. Source: Breakfast

Camille Harris and Waimarie Onekawa appeared on Breakfast after the Ministry of Health pledged $6 million over the next four years to help increase the recruitment and retention of Māori and Pasifika midwifery students.

It's hoped that the funding will also help overcome the inequities found in the communities that midwives serve, with less than 10 per cent of the country's midwifery workforce identifying as Māori or Pasifika.

Harris and Onekawa say there are better outcomes for whanau who have midwives they can relate to.

“We have many talents in our culture and birthing is one of them, we do it beautifully and why not help encourage people to reconnect with their whanau, reconnect with their culture and reclaim what’s already theirs,” Onekawa said.

Onekawa says there is a huge gap in the numbers of Māori and Pasifika midwives.

“Just under 10 per cent of the midwifery population is Māori and three per cent is Pasifika and that doesn’t match our birthing populations, 25 per cent of women birthing are Māori and 10 per cent are Pasifika,” Onekawa said.

We need to boost our workforce so this money is so important.”

They say Māori and Pasifika shouldn’t be intimidated by the study needed to become a midwife, saying midwives from these communities bring unique talents and understanding to the role.