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Partnership at Te Papaioea Birthing Centre

MidCentral DHB and Wright Family Foundation Announce Partnership at Te Papaioea Birthing Centre

12 December 2019: MidCentral District Health Board has announced an innovative, exciting opportunity for birthing women in the region.

MidCentral DHB and Wright Family Foundation have entered into an agreement that will see the DHB managing the Te Papaioea Birthing Centre in Palmerston North.

The agreement is the first of its kind in New Zealand and offers mothers, babies and whānau more opportunities for birthing, increased postnatal care and other pregnancy related care, including clinics, lactation consultancy and community midwifery services, in a primary setting.

The agreement recognises what research has confirmed for many years: the importance of care in the first thousand days of life. Vital in this approach is putting mothers at the centre to achieve best outcomes for mother, baby, and whanau.

The venture will enable staff to move between both sites, implementing a flexible work flow to provide cross cover and enable staff opportunities of working in primary and hospital-based maternity settings.

MidCentral DHB’s Operations Executive for Te Uru Pā Harakeke Sarah Fenwick said both the DHB and the Wright Family Foundation are committed to ensuring the best possible primary birthing opportunities are presented to women, babies and whānau.

“There is clear evidence to suggest women with low risk pregnancies who birth at a primary setting experience better health outcomes and we are delighted to be a position where we can continue to provide the very best health services to our community in a safe and supportive environment. We are confident this change will be a positive one for the community and for staff working at the hospital and the birthing centre.”

“We are very grateful to the Foundation for its support of this agreement, for the use of its wonderful, custom-built facility and for the fantastic service it has provided to our community since opening in 2017.”

Wright Family Foundation will continue to provide wrap around services nationally, based on the first thousand days, parenting workshops, mentoring for families, and support for Whanau Ora services not funded by the government.

Founder of Mothers Matter and Founder and Director of the Birthing Centre, Chloe Wright, said this is a very exciting announcement and an acknowledgement of how primary (birthing centres) and secondary (hospitals) maternity services can work together to provide excellent care for mothers and babies.

“The 48 hours after birth is known as ‘the window of opportunity’ and presents a time to bond that can significantly influence the future wellbeing and health of mother, baby, and whānau. To be able to provide this in an appropriate way will pay dividends for generations to come.

“We all know the well documented pressures hospital maternity units are facing across the country. MidCentral DHB has recognised with this partnership that the existing primary birthing centres are part of the solution.”

“We are thrilled that MidCentral DHB has been at the table, talking to us, putting mothers first, and understanding our philosophy to provide a warm, nurturing sanctuary, based on World Health Organisation recommendations for optimal conditions conducive to primary birthing.”

Mothers Matter Representative Dame Lesley Max says the partnership is the way forward. “When we work together like this, we have a better chance at providing mothers and babies what is necessary for them to thrive.”

Te Papaioea Birthing Centre is for healthy pregnant women who do not expect interventions. The Centre was opened in 2017 and is located on Ruahine Street, a short distance from Palmerston North Hospital. The transition of the Birthing Centre to MidCentral DHB management is set to take place in April 2020.

Birthing Centre is owned and supported by registered charitable trust the Wright Family Foundation, of which Chloe is co-founder and CEO. Other Birthing Centres operate in Tauranga, Lower Hutt and Māngere in South Auckland. More information about the Centre can be found on at


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