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Midwives, women and their families: a Māori gaze towards partnerships for maternity care in Aotearoa New Zealand

Christine Kenney


New Zealand health legislation requires midwives to affirm Māori as tangata whenua (people of the land) and actively honour the principles of partnership, protection and participation as an affirmation of the Treaty of Waitangi. Despite the introduction of some Māori values (NgāTuranga Kaupapa) into performance criteria for professional competencies and standards of practice, there is no representation of any Māori world view within the partnership model; the foundation of midwifery practice. Non-acknowledgement of tikanga (cultural traditions) and mātauranga Māori (indigenous knowledge) within the underlying philosophies of practice potentially violates current health legislation and inherently contradicts professional competencies, ethics and practice standards. The mono-cultural model of partnership is arguably contextually inadequate and potentially detrimental to whānau ora (family health and wellbeing). An argument is presented that, subject to consultation, a bicultural model of partnership could provide a legal, ethical and contextually relevant framework for midwifery care provision in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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Print ISSN 1177-1801 Online ISSN 1174-1740