Birthing Centre Newsletter March 2021

Newsletter March 2021

Birthing Centre Newsletter | March 2021





In this issue



Mothers Matter short film

Meet Joan Miller


Letter from the founder 

Kia ora,

“In all cultures, the midwives place is on the
threshold of life, where intense human emotions,
fear, hope, longing, triumph, and incredible
physical power – enable a new human being to emerge.
Her vocation is unique”.
Shelia Kitzinger
Recently I had the opportunity to speak on Magic Talk to the role midwives have in the physical, emotional, and pastoral care of women as they journey on the path to bringing new life into the world.

How do we hope to encourage new graduates into the art and science of midwifery when most of the public conversation is around how stressful and financially unsupported midwifery can be? From numerous conversations with midwives, this profession is embraced as women-centred, to support an empowering experience for mothers. This is the reason most women take up the call.

Although, as in most professions, there can be self-serving elements, most put the wellbeing of mothers first. It is this majority who are role models for our new graduates and the future of midwifery, and mothers are grateful to these dedicated ‘wise women’.

Now that MidCentral (Palmerston North) DHB has taken over the operation of Te Papaioea Birthing Centre my reports show more women are accessing the care all women deserve to receive. While there last week, two women who were about to leave with their new babies gave the Clinical Midwife Manager an effusive thanks for the care and support they received. Sadly, the ‘gold standard’ of care that MidCentral had hoped would spread over our nation for our women has been ignored by other DHBs. The critical importance of the first 1000 days cannot have been on any other DHB agenda.

Thankfully MidCentral has opened the door to us being able to support more wraparound services. I met with Jacquie Nutt who is the instigator of Whāngai Ora Milk Bank. What a success story! She was anxiously waiting for the ‘big’ pasteuriser to arrive that had so kindly been donated by local business. What a selfless woman and team. ❤️

While our Clinical Midwife Manager Jacqui Paine takes a well-earned sabbatical of six months, two fantastic primary-focussed midwives will share the Te Awakairangi Birthing Centre CMM role. One from out of town and the other fully immersed in the Hutt Valley midwifery scene, both with impeccable credentials. We can only hope they make inroads with the Board of Hutt Valley DHB because to date, apart from a couple of Board members, they have been unmoving in supporting TABC, notwithstanding the Code Red and Code Black situations they encounter. Shameful. Please consider these Board members when voting next comes up. Four minutes down the road from the hospital and too apathetic to visit a centre that is open 24/7. Shocking!

The same applies to Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre in Auckland with the exception that no Board member has visited. They have shown that the women and whānau of the area are of little importance. We will continue to fight for equitable care, and to further publicise the barriers put before our whānau in receiving respectful and caring support. We look to the Minister of Health for fair and just treatment for our women.

This brings me to the speakers we had at the Mothers Matter Parliamentary breakfast held last week. Our own Tish Taihia, CMM of Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre so ably represented the role midwives play across our nation. She was joined by Gemma McCaw, Sir Peter Gluckman, Dr Johan Morreau, and Joanne Rama in a very compelling plea to the Government, who to this time have turned their back on any meaningful commitment to mothers. We will see, but we won’t wait. Any communication is set in the context of ‘it takes time’. Time is up. Lives are being lost and shattered. The narrative is horrendous. As I said, “it is time for those who sit at the pinnacle of decision-making to turn away from their mirrors and to turn their gaze to humanity”. Mothers Matter ❤️.

Click here to see the Mothers Matter short film. Warning: Some viewers may find this content distressing as it contains themes of violence and suicide. 


Chloe  ❤️
Chloe Wright


The Mothers Matter campaign took its fight for better care for our mothers and babies to Parliament last week.

A breakfast was held for MPs to launch the short film Who Holds Our Mothers? which highlights New Zealand’s shameful maternal suicide and perinatal depression statistics.

The film was created by Mothers Matter, founded by Birthing Centre Founder Chloe Wright, and is currently screening as a television advertisement.

Mothers Matter has tried repeatedly to meet with various Government Ministers for more than three years, but despite their pleas have never been granted a meeting or an opportunity to talk.

The ‘Raise the Red Flag’ campaign is demanding policy change to provide equitable perinatal care across New Zealand via a targeted ring-fenced fund that is determined by the mother’s choice about the care she needs and receives. This should include the necessary wraparound services to meet her medical and wellbeing needs.

You can get involved in the campaign by wearing a badge, adding a frame to your Facebook profile, or writing to your local MP. Find out more on the Mothers Matter website and Facebook page.

Mothers Matter Founder Chloe Wright speaking to MPs and health experts in Wellington.


Joan Miller

Joan Miller started her nursing training at Middlemore Hospital more decades ago than she likes to remember and has now come full circle, returning to South Auckland to put her extensive midwifery and lactation consultant skills into action at Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre.
Her love of midwifery began after working in the maternity unit at Middlemore Hospital. She combined an OE with midwifery training in Scotland and returned to New Zealand nearly 10 years later with a new husband and a baby on the way.

While working at North Shore Hospital she met some amazing home birth midwives and decided to have her subsequent children at home. She went on to spend the next five years working in primary birthing.

Joan is passionate about breastfeeding and has also worked in the Plunket Family Centres in Auckland, coordinating breastfeeding services and mentoring the next generation of lactation consultants.

“I like knowing I can retire gracefully in the foreseeable future knowing women will be well supported in their breastfeeding journey,” she says.

Joan joined the team at Nga Hau Māngere in 2019 and is working on developing a breastfeeding clinic which will not only help mothers with any issues hindering their enjoyment of breastfeeding their babies, but also be a training clinic for student lactation consultants.

She says her midwifery philosophy is “built into the brickwork” at Nga Hau Māngere and she enjoys being part of a team where mothers are empowered to birth their babies without interventions and are fully supported to spend the first few days with their partner and new baby in a comfortable environment.

“It’s an amazing way to work.”


News from our centres


Water births in Bethlehem smash national average

About 40 per cent, or approximately 170 babies, are born into water at Bethlehem Birthing Centre each year.

The last national figures on water birth in New Zealand were recorded by the New Zealand College of Midwives in its 2016 report into New Zealand Midwifery and Maternity Provider Organisation activities and outcomes.

It found only 10.2 percent of babies were born into water in New Zealand. Another 26.8 percent of women reported using water in labour.

Sara Harris-Ellis had a water birth at Bethlehem Birthing Centre in 2020 with her daughter Kora, now five months old.

She shares her experience in this article.

BBC now on Instagram! 

Bethlehem Birthing Centre is now on Instagram and is running a promotion for mums-to-be until 17 March to encourage people to follow our page. 

Local suppliers have generously donated more than $1400 worth of goods and services and the prize package includes an additional night’s postnatal stay at Bethlehem Birthing Centre; a free ‘Delivered’ postnatal parenting workshop delivered antenatally by Routachment; a voucher from Baby Love Images for 12 free ‘Watch me Grow’ monthly pop-up photography sessions at Bethlehem Birthing Centre; Botty Balm and Nipple Cream from Natures Touch; ‘Hypnobirthing - The Mongan Method’ book from Empowered Birthing; natural baby wipes and nappies from Noopii; a pregnancy support belt and natural fibre baby swaddle from Breastmates; natural remedies from Qbaby; a handmade quilt for baby from the Omokoroa Loved for Life group; and flowers delivered during your stay from The Little Flower.

Be sure to follow us and tag a friend!

Nga Hau Māngere

Nga Hau Māngere features in new TV advertisement

Midwives and families birthing at Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre feature in a new TV advertisement promoting awareness of maternal mental health.

The opening scene captures the moments after the beautiful water birth of one of our young couples, a Niuean mama and an attentive Tongan papa.

The cultural diversity of the centre is also evident in the support of their Pakeha LMC midwife and Niuean/Samoan third year midwifery student, and scenes from one of the parenting classes held regularly at the centre which features Indian and Asian parents and parents-to-be.

See the TV advertisement here.

Increase in primary birth rates of Pasifika women

Before Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre opened in mid-2019, a 2016 Auckland University of Technology research project featured statistics showing only six per cent of primary births in the Counties Manukau District Health Board region were to Pacific families. According to our statistics 60-70 per cent of births at the centre to date have been from women identifying as Pasifika.

Eight years ago, midwives of Pacific ethnicity made up less than two percent of the midwifery workforce. This has increased gradually, with Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre offering a valuable primary placement option for all midwifery students, as well as being a support centre for Pacific students and their mentors, the ‘Aunties’ from Pasifika Midwives Aotearoa.

Moana Research is also based at Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre and is a valuable partner in the health sector, gathering data around Pacific maternity care that will influence policy-making and future planning of services for this community. They are very thankful for the support the Wright Family Foundation has given them in setting up over the past two years.

Sewing and knitting sessions on the way

Good Seeds/SuperGrans are about to start sewing and knitting sessions for mums at Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre. Pictured is our administrator Chantal Naidoo and Super Knitter Yvonne from Good Seeds in front of our ‘Whānau Tree’ in the foyer featuring photos of our staff. Stay tuned for more information!


Find us online

Our website,, is a great port of call for anyone who wants to find out more about primary birthing, our philosophy and service.

You can also find previous issues of our newsletter here.

Check out our Facebook pages too:
Bethlehem Birthing Centre:
Te Awakairangi Birthing Centre at Melling:
Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre:

And Bethlehem Birthing Centre is now on Instagram too: #bethlehembirthingcentre



Quote of the day

“Childbirth is more admirable than conquest, more amazing than self-defence, and as courageous as either one.”.”

Gloria Steinem


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