Home Birth Hui 2013

Summer kicked off with the national hui in November, held at Arai Te Uru Marae in Dunedin. Hui this year began with a trustee hui where our strategic vision was examined and planning for current and new projects. The national hui was attended by representatives from around the country, with a good measure of babies, children, mums, dads, midwives and friends as well. Alongside our usual reports and group collaboration on the regular projects and celebrations, we had some inspiring guests.

Bridgett Lauper, a filmmaker from Auckland presented some clips from her Home Birth Herstory filming project and facilitated a discussion on how this project could grow in the future. Home Birth Aotearoa has committed to supporting a steering group to continue this conversation with the wider homebirth community. Behind the scenes, we have been working industriously on the development of the new Home Birth Aotearoa website. A combination of resources for whānau interested in home birth, and interactive functionality for our community, the site is a shared space to touch base and connect with home birth.

2013 Home Birth Hui viewed through the experiences of a German Midwifery Student

Tell us a bit about yourself.
My Name is Clara. I came to New Zealand as a naive German tourist, went out for 2 month of work and a bit of travel time and ended up with deep love in this country, the culture and the kiwi personalities. I am a dedicated midwife for 2 years from now and finally in the process to finish my Masters in Public Health. For that reason I completed a 2 months internship at the Centre of Midwifery and Public Health at AUT in Auckland. It was a rainy time on the North Shore but nevertheless I was inspired and motivated to join these great women working in midwifery and womens´ health research. I increased my English skills, got involved in some interesting research project, but most important to me: I got in touch with high level researchers and connected to midwives all over the country, got to learn about NZ midwifery and birth culture, the changes in the 1990th and the work conditions and background of my profession in your country. It was fantastic.

What is your homebirth background?
During my training as a midwife from 2007-2011 in Graz, Austria, I was taught a lot about homebirth and out-of-hospital-care in theory. But it never came to the point, that I was involved in a homebirth going on. After my graduation I knew, women centred care is the best way to work in my profession and I was curious to learn more about homebirth. Germany has a rate of 2% in out-of-hospital-birth and numbers are decreasing. I finally decided to start my new living as a midwife being part of a 5-headed homebirth and birth centre team of midwives, based in Lueneburg, Germany. What an amazing time! I was lucky to find these great midwives, who took my hand and guided me well into the most beautiful way to give birth care – at least in my opinion it is. Although it was a hard-working and exhausting experience to be on duty 28 days a month, 24hours a day, always on call and never free to go wherever I want, I don’t want to miss these months in my life. I learned a lot from the midwives and the women and families themselves and I was confident in myself having chosen the right profession. But the situation for midwives is not bright in Germany. Increasing insurance fees and political pressure demand a lot and many midwives give up their faith in reliable work conditions. That is why I started my Masters degree in Public Health. I hope to learn about improving work conditions for midwives and try to find role models in health and midwifery policies. This made me come to New Zealand.

Why did you decide to attend the National Hui in New Zealand?
Brigitte, the film maker who attempts the homebirth support group meetings in Auckland once in a while is friends with Zaneta my great host mom in Auckland. So we managed to join a meeting as well, watching the Ina May Gaskin movie and I loved the trustful and comfortable community. I was invited to the Hui and managed to combine the weekend with the beginning of my travel time at the south island. What a glorious starting shot!

What activities did you attend?
I stayed at the Hui for the whole weekend. Unfortunately I missed the welcoming ceremony, but nonetheless, all weekend was fantastic. I enjoyed the round of introductions combined to the ceremony of filling water from special places into the wonderful jar. I loved to hear where everybody came from and what illusions and dreams she/he has for the weekend. I was proud of my friend Brigitte´s presentation of her wonderful movie MONODIDI. It was inspiring to stay at the Marae for a couple of days and I felt my feet well standing on the ground of this special setting. The workshop with Kelly Tikao – a traditional Maori midwife was an overwhelming impression as well, and I could gather new knowledge and open my mind for another culture.

Was the hui successful, by your own goals?
I did not know a lot about Maori culture before the Hui. I have seen a tourist presentation of Maori dance in Rotorua before and that is mainly it. It was fantastic, that Home Birth Support Aotearoa made it possible for me, to join a real life experience in a Marae. I felt integrated and curious at the same time and the spirit of the setting was noticeable everywhere.

On the other side, it was very special to me as well, to learn about the nationwide Homebirth Support Group. I haven´t got in touch with one of them in Europe, I even don´t know if they exist. I love the idea of creating a space for everybody, who is interested. Usually midwives and homebirth families meet separately, talking about the same thing from different perspectives. But it is true – it is a great opportunity to combine the knowledge from both directions.

The combination of these two experiences made the hui an outstanding event. It is definitely one of my highlights of New Zealand and the best way to manage the change from internship to travel time in beautiful Aotearoa, reflecting my path from Germany to Auckland to Dunedin so far and looking forward to future.

Listening to Kelly Tikao talk on traditional Maori birth practices

Enjoying the guest speaker Kelly Tikao at the Arai Te Uru Marae at out 2013 Home Birth Hui

Rachel Pearson returns water from the vessel back to stream by Arai Te Uru marae in Dunedin