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Mother Consumer Group Mourn Chloe Wright And Call On Government To Continue What She Started

The Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre Consumer Group (the Consumer Group) are deeply saddened by the death of Chloe Wright.

“As whānau that have been directly impacted by the work and generosity of Chloe and the Wright Foundation, we offer our condolences to the Wright family and wish to express our grief and acute sense of loss from her passing”.

“We also wish to express our strong gratitude and appreciation for her work and legacy, which provided a desperately needed lifeboat to the community of Māngere through the establishment of Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre. The members of our group have all experienced exceptional care and support, that was not otherwise available, because of Chloe’s work and generosity, providing our babies the best possible start to life.”

The Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre Consumer Group formed in June 2023 in support of Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre (Nga Hau). With the Birthing Centre facing closure, the group formed to campaign for Government support and funding for Nga Hau, to ensure the centre remains open to serve the local community. The group consists of whānau who have received care at Nga Hau, with the majority of core group members identifying as Māori or Pasifika and who live in Mangere or the surrounding suburbs.

In June 2022 the Consumer Group launched a public petition that gained over 9000 signatures from members of the public calling for the Government to ensure that the centre receives funding so it can remain open and continue to serve the local community, especially Māori and Pasifika whānau. 75% of women birthing at Nga Hau Māngere identify as Māori and/or Pasifika. Research has shown that in the first 2000 days Māori and/or Pasifika have preventable, inequitable experiences. Pregnant Māori and/or Pasifika have the highest death rates and are less likely to receive specialist care.

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Despite significant public support and outcry, there is still no confirmation or commitment from Te Whatu Ora that Nga Hau will be saved from imminent closure.

“The Government must continue what Chloe started and ensure Nga Hau receives funding and can remain open. Failure to do so is to fail thousands of women and babies, as well as the Pasifika and Māori communities that Government has pledged to support and invest in as part of Kahu Taurima programme.”

The Government has said that the Kahu Taurima team will commission culturally tailored maternity and early years service delivery models, which allow for local tailoring to support whānau aspirations and goals, and that will be achieved by working with whānau, communities, Hauora Māori Partners, and service providers across the country.

“We call for those in power to act on these words. We are the whānau and the community who you have committed to working with, and we are saying we want and need this centre as our local maternity service. It is culturally safe and appropriate and provides the gold standard of care in Aotearoa. To allow it to close will devastate this community and the ripples will be felt by generations to come.”

The Consumer Group held a public hui where multiple testimonies from consumers of Nga Hau shared their positive experience and requested local election candidates pledge their support to keep the centre. Chloe Wright attended and spoke at the hui sharing her heart for maternity services in New Zealand and the continued need for investment in mothers and early years.

The Consumer Group have released a report evidencing strong support and preference for the centre over other options. Over 40 consumers who had received care at Nga Hau provided detailed written feedback to Nga Hau Mangere Birthing Centre in June and July 2023, expressing their strong preference for Nga Hau as their service provider for maternity and birth care over other options (such as other primary birthing units in South Auckland or Middlemore Hospital). All expressed support of the centre remaining open. Core themes from the feedback emerged including that Nga Hau was culturally safe and appropriate, healed former birth trauma, catered for fathers, has clean and modern facilities, provided exceptional birth care and allowed for rest and whanau support after birth.

As well as the Consumer Group’s research, the Government’s own research supports that a centre, especially one designed like Nga Hau Māngere with the ability for dads to stay over and that provides modern, private facilities, is greatly needed in the area. A study commissioned by Counties Manukau, published by Moana Connect in 2019, found that “One of the issues facing women… who live close to Middlemore Hospital and its surrounding suburbs is that there is no local primary birthing unit with some mothers having to travel more than 20km to access the nearest unit. This is not expected to change until a primary birthing unit is available locally.”

“The Government’s own research supports that this service is needed in the community and that the centre’s whanau focused design and philosophy is what is wanted by local women at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives.”

The group call on Te Whatu Ora to listen to and partner with the community to ensure the vital service that is Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre can continue and care for many future mothers and Kiwi babies.

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