The Aunties initiative - creating more Pacific midwives

Nga Marsters


Nga Marsters is a clinical educator and Pacific student liaison for the midwifery programme at AUT South Campus.

New Zealand is in dire need of more Pacific midwives.


Only 2.1 percent of midwives in Aotearoa are of Pacific descent. In South Auckland, where 30.7 percent of the birthing population is Pacific, there are only about 10 Pacific midwives.
That’s not enough.


Pacific mums should be able to have access to Pacific midwives. Here’s why; Pacific midwives work better with Pacific mothers because they can understand each other better.


This innate understanding between a Pacific midwife and a Pacific mother contributes to stronger relationships, because they share a common language and traditions. And, they can appreciate cultural and social nuances.


We need to get creative and act collectively to increase the number of Pacific midwifes in the community. And, encourage more Pacific people to study midwifery.


If you know someone with good communication skills who would make a great midwife, tell them. You never know what you might spark. I had never considered becoming a midwife, until my own midwife suggested it to me.


My career has been extremely rewarding. It’s a privilege to play a part in such a catalytic event in people’s lives. And, I’ve never looked back.


We can do more to support mature students and Island-trained midwifes. Many of the people I teach are mature students, whose stories are similar to mine. They’re decided to come back and train after the experience of giving birth or helping out with a birth.


There are also Island-trained midwives who work as nurses, because they haven’t been able to do a bridging course to get their qualification recognised in New Zealand.


Many of them are the main breadwinners in their family, so time and money is an issue. But, wouldn’t it be fantastic if they had a little help with living costs, so they could fully commit to study?


We have tried to combat this at AUT South Campus by setting up The Aunties initiative with Pasifika Midwives Aotearoa.


The Aunties initiative, a voluntary, self-referring mentoring programme, pairs a Pacific student (niece) with a registered Pacific midwife (auntie).


Pacific midwifes volunteer their time and expertise to guide Pacific students – providing academic and pastoral support. Currently, there are 12 aunties and 22 nieces enrolled throughout New Zealand.


We believe that this support produces competent and confident midwives who are ready to serve the Pacific community.


AUT South Campus is the only university in New Zealand that offers a Bachelor of Health Science (Midwifery).


The Aunties initiative is just one way that we work to support and engage with the community.

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