Hāpai support Māori midwives to enable whānau to thrive
Hāpai Te Hauora supports the actions of two Māori midwives Jean Te Huia and Ripeka Ormsby who sought to prevent the uplifting of a seven-day-old baby from their mother last Tuesday night at Hawke’s Bay hospital. The pair, alongside a contingent of whānau contested the uplifting of the baby on the grounds that the report made against the mother and her family were presumptuous and based on information which was under dispute.
It is important to understand that this kind of scenario is not unique. Approximately three Māori babies are uplifted from their mothers each week. The midwives’ resistance reinforces the absolute need for the state to urgently review current practices and to consider the devastating impacts its blunt methods are having on whānau Māori.
While each case has its own unique circumstances, in this instance, whānau and a wider network of support were present ensuring the safety and wellbeing of both baby and mum. The actions taken by the midwives have compromised personal and professional relationships. Since this story has been in the media the midwives have been contacted by many others who are also fearful of losing whānau to the state without justification.
"Removing and displacing mokopuna fails to acknowledge whānau ora practices, which places hapū and whānau as agents of support. The strength of whakapapa tells us that our mokopuna have the wider support structures within the collective. The authority and agency of nurturing tamariki mokopuna needs to be returned to hapū" says Fay Selby-Law, SUDI Prevention General Manager.
"This scenario demonstrates the overriding power centralised within institutions who are disrupting and disconnecting whānau Māori. Whānau Māori are disproportionately uplifted by the state and these have traumatic and intergenerational impacts. We need to ensure that these patterns do not continue within our communities and look to solutions which support and strengthen whakapapa" says Selah Hart, CEO of Hāpai te Hauora.
These issues sit within the context of broader Treaty of Waitangi health claims and illustrate how Māori communities have historic and contemporary grievances which need to be urgently addressed.