Northland floods: Midwives pack chainsaws, ride dirtbikes to get to mothers in need

Midwives have added chainsaws to their home birth kits after a pregnant woman trapped by Northland flooding had to be helicoptered out.

Severe weather overnight left roads closed around the region, trapping motorists including a man who had to sleep overnight in his car

But the one-in-500-year storm also trapped a woman in Kaikohe, two hours north of Whangarei, who went into preterm labour while 26 weeks pregnant.

Her midwife Justine O'Dwyer made the decision to take her to hospital but the only way was by air-lift.

"Anyone north of Moerewa is not heading south. Anyone who needs to be birthing in Whangarei is not. At the moment there is no access to a hospital," she told Newshub.

While the helicopter initially struggled to land due to foggy conditions, around 10am it was able to pick the woman up.

O'Dwyer said the conditions had been challenging but she would jump over trees if she has to get to a mother in need.

"We are doing the additional travel, we are doing the additional visits, we are doing the long drives to ensure the women who need our care are getting our care."

Priscilla Ford, the chair of the NZ College of Midwives (NZCOM) Te Taitokerau Northland Region, said midwives around the region have been working hard to get to mothers in need.

Ford and her husband have their dirt bike ready- "he has assured me he will get me to any woman because babies don't wait".

She says they have also added an unusual item to their birthing kit - a chainsaw - in case they come across trees blocking their path. 

Tina Sherman, a midwife from Whangarei, has also been battling the Northland roads.

She said a mother in her care called her out to Hikurangi on Saturday morning to come and attend to her.

"On the way out there was lots of flooding on the road so the water covered the road and there was lots of debris, bits of wood and rubbish."

She said she had to pull off the road to avoid the debris and make it to her mother.

"We made the decision to bring her into hospital but there were detours on the roads," she said. "It was a very slow trip into hospital."