The Government has announced $6 million in funding for Māori and Pasifika midwifery students to support the success of these students and increase the number of midwives in communities.
While the industry is under pressure with the increasing shortage of midwives around New Zealand, the problem is even more prevalent in Māori and Pasifika communities who currently represent just 12 percent of the workforce. Yet together, they make up 30 percent of women giving birth.
An announcement from Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall on Tuesday will give $6 million over the next four years to provide wrap-around care, academic support and to actively recruit Māori and Pasifika. There will also be a discretionary hardship fund for students in need and support to attend nationwide hui and fono for networking.
"This is a programme for Māori and Pasifika by Māori and Pasifika," Dr Verrall says.
"We do need to about double the size of our Māori and Pasifika midwifery workforce."
Māori only represent 10 percent of the workforce and Pasifika make up just two percent.
Māori and Pasifika will now have access to tailored pastoral care and a much-needed hardship fund while studying midwifery.
Alison Eddy, NZ College of Midwives CEO, welcomed the approach.
"If we can have the workforce that matches the woman giving birth in New Zealand, we're going to make sure that those women get the care that they really need," she says.
"Increasingly, we're all aware of the systemic inequities in education and in health systems that really disadvantage Māori and Pasifika from succeeding, so specific wrap-around support to support their success will hopefully make a real difference to our workforce."
The funding was also welcomed by midwifery student Tania Webb.
"It's huge, it's huge, it takes some weight off my shoulders not just as a student, [but] as a mum, as Māori."