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.