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NZ College of Midwives' first Māori president hopes to increase connection with rural areas

The first Māori president of the New Zealand College of Midwives hopes to encourage a more community-based approach to training, in a bid to increase the numbers of Māori in the profession.

Northland’s Nicole Pihema is the new head of the organisation that is under-represented by Māori.

According to the Ministry of Health, only 260 of New Zealand’s 3000-odd midwives are of Māori descent.

Pihema says the manner in which training and education is delivered is hampering some Māori from getting into the job.

She said would-be midwives have to leave their communities to train, something those in rural and remote areas, in particular, find difficult.

“We know what connectedness to our whenua (land) is really important, we need to move education back into our communities, and that’s why I’d like to see a more wananga-based approach,” she told Te Karere.

Pihema has also been working with the ministry on a new funding model for community midwives.

“We need to have a sustainable workforce that is renumerated in a fair and reasonable way, and we are currently working on that at the moment,” she said.

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Northland’s Nicole Pihema is the new head of the profession that is under-represented by Māori. Source: Te Karere