Delivering new North Island midwifery scholarships

Fana Temese-To’omaga is the first Pasifika woman to graduate from the Wellington satellite of the Otago Polytechnic Bachelor of Midwifery and is now a core midwife at Wellington Regional Hospital.
Fana Temese-To’omaga is the first Pasifika woman to graduate from the Wellington satellite of the Otago Polytechnic Bachelor of Midwifery and is now a core midwife at Wellington Regional Hospital. Photo credit: Otago Polytechnic

A pioneer of midwifery education, the School of Midwifery, Te Kura Atawhai kā Kaiakopono te Hākuitaka, at Otago Polytechnic, is now offering North Island Midwifery Scholarships to Year One midwifery students at its North Island satellites in Whanganui, Palmerston North and Wellington.

It has been delivering flexible study options in the lower North Island since 2010. 

Open to domestic learners beginning Otago Polytechnic’s Bachelor of Midwifery in 2020, the scholarships comprise a $2000 reduction in course fees for full-time, full-year study in year one of the Bachelor of Midwifery, although those eligible for FeesFree are able to defer the scholarship to their second year of study.

Graduating midwives with a Bachelor of Midwifery since 1994

The School of Midwifery, which also has satellites in Dunedin, Southland and Central Otago, has been graduating midwives with the Bachelor of Midwifery since 1994 following the introduction of direct-entry midwifery education in 1992.

The Head of School of Midwifery, Christine Griffiths, who is based in Greater Wellington, says the School of Midwifery’s success relates to its approach to flexible learning, innovative programme delivery and strong research focus.

"Students can partly study midwifery online and partly face-to-face, so they can stay in their own communities while they study, and fit their learning around other demands," she says.

"Students on our midwifery degree programme are grouped into 'satellites' which meet weekly with locally-based Kaiako/lecturers. They stay in their community, helping build their communities during study and midwifery practice, and often remain in their community to work as midwives," Christine says.

Professor Sally Baddock, of the School of Midwifery, emphasises the school’s postgraduate study options and depth of research.

"All of our academic staff hold a postgraduate qualification, including a number with PhDs.

"Our midwifery programmes are supported by strong research. Otago Polytechnic is ranked first in health research in the ITP sector in the recent national performance-based funding round.

"We’ve now graduated more than 450 midwives, and 100% of our graduates find employment if they want. In addition, we deliver postgraduate programmes both in New Zealand and internationally – including taking midwives through to the qualification of a Master of Midwifery.”

Recent graduates include Jana Walshe, who received the 2018 Graduate Midwife of the Year award from the Counties Manukau DHB.

Supporting diversity

People from diverse backgrounds go into midwifery, helped by the School of Midwifery’s flexible delivery model, which allows students to fit study around other demands such as family, and also provides strong support for Māori and Pasifika students.

Fana Temese-To’omaga is the first Pasifika woman to graduate from the Wellington satellite of the Otago Polytechnic Bachelor of Midwifery and she is now a core midwife at the Wellington Regional Hospital. She was part of the Midwifery First Year of Practice programme, which matches newly qualified midwives with professional mentors and is compulsory for all new graduates in New Zealand.

"You are always learning in this profession – it doesn’t end because you have graduated. Actually, it’s just the beginning," Fana says.

"I didn’t feel very confident at first as I hadn’t done anything academic for about 20 years and it was a big shock, but I was determined to keep going because I wanted my kids to know if I can do it, then they can do anything they want."

A career in midwifery

"There is nothing quite like a career in midwifery. It is so enormously rewarding and challenging and it is such an honour being there for women and their whānau," says Norma Campbell, after nearly four decades in the profession.

Norma graduated with a Master of Midwifery from the School of Midwifery and is the director of midwifery at Canterbury/West Coast DHB.

"Every year you gain more understanding of humankind, of pregnancy, of babies," she says. "The job satisfaction is amazing."

Partnership a key concept

Partnership is a key concept of the New Zealand midwifery model, with midwives caring for women and their whanau from early pregnancy until six weeks after a birth. Few other countries enable midwives to practice autonomously, providing continuous care throughout the childbearing experience.

"Our model of midwifery is recognised internationally as delivering better outcomes and more satisfied women," says Alison Eddy, chief executive of the New Zealand College of Midwives.

"The word midwife means ‘with woman’ and is reflective of the midwife’s role in accompanying the woman on her journey through pregnancy and childbirth into motherhood.

"There is a strong and growing body of evidence that New Zealand’s midwifery-led model is the optimal way for women to receive maternity care, she says.

"Many countries look to New Zealand as a model to aspire to."

Benefits of studying Otago Polytechnic’s three-year Bachelor of Midwifery

• You will be working with women and midwives within a month of commencing your studies

• Blended delivery means you can fit your studies around your lifestyle... and not have the travel and accommodation costs that come with attending campus-based study

• After only three years of successful study, you can work as a qualified midwife ... and be earning an income

Read about the Bachelor of Midwifery, including how to apply.

Read about the North Island Midwifery Scholarship.

This article is created for Otago Polytechnic.



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