Te Rōpu Pou Herenga | Collaborative Reference Group

The key function of the Aotearoa Midwifery Project Collaborative Reference Group (CRG) was to expertly guide Te Tatau o te Whare Kahu | Midwifery Council’s review of the regulatory framework specific to midwifery practice in Aotearoa New Zealand by enabling new ways of working together.

Dr Hope Tupara
Co-chair - Aotearoa Midwifery Project Collaborative Reference Group

Tēnā koutou,

I am honoured to be Co-chair of the Aotearoa Midwifery Project Reference Group to assist the Midwifery Council update and modernise the regulatory framework. I was a member of the inaugural Midwifery Council in 2003, and I can remember while developing regulation back then, it was a very exciting time. In 2020, it is exciting again for some different reasons, one being the Midwifery Council is adopting a Treaty of Waitangi-led co-design approach for the Review. I have often heard experts wiser than me say, if we get the Treaty-led relationship right, we will get “equity for all” right. The collaborative pathway being developed for the Aotearoa Midwifery Project is a positive sign of great things to come and I look forward to what lies ahead.

I have confidence that together alongside our professional and affiliated organisations, midwives, women and families/whānau, we will be measured and create a transformative framework fit for the future.


Dr Judith McAra-Couper
Co-chair - Aotearoa Midwifery Project Collaborative Reference Group

Tēnā koutou,

My midwifery experience began at St Helen’s and Middlemore Hospitals in Auckland. Then followed five years working in a village in Bangladesh. Since 1996 I have worked at Auckland University of Technology as a midwifery lecturer and held a joint appointment at Counties-Manukau for 12 years (clinical midwife educator in the delivery unit). I completed my PhD in 2007. In 2009 the World Health Organisation employed me to write a Midwifery Curriculum and syllabus for nurse midwives. I have returned to Bangladesh many times as part of being employed by UNFPA Bangladesh to facilitate the implementation of this programme, along with the Curriculum Development for Direct Entry Midwifery in Bangladesh.

I was awarded a Star Post-Doctoral Scholarship (2010), and my research interests include Maternal Mental Health, Sustainability of Midwifery Practice, and Place of Birth. I was the Chairperson of the Auckland Region of NZCOM 2008-2011, was appointed to the Midwifery Council of New Zealand in 2010, was the Chair of the Midwifery Council 2011-2018, become Head of Midwifery Department at AUT in 2013 and Associate Professor in 2014. I am currently Chair of the National Maternity Monitoring Group. I am passionate about midwifery, midwifery education, equity and good governance of our midwifery organisations.

Tania Fleming
Academic Representative

Tēnā koutou katoa. Ko Tauhara te maunga. Ko Taupō te roto. Ko Ngāti Pākehā te iwi Ko Tania Fleming taku ingoa. He wahine whakawhānau taku mahi.

I have been a midwife for 24 years, during this time I have worked as a rural LMC, in youth sexual and reproductive health, midwifery unit manager of a birthing unit and the last 10 years in midwifery education. I completed my PhD in 2019 which focused on Cultural Safety for midwives.

I am excited about joining the Aotearoa Midwifery project and this opportunity to be part of a team that is future proofing midwifery in Aotearoa. Building on the amazing work already done by working towards a Te Tiriti Honouring framework for midwifery competencies, standards and scope of practice.


Kate Nicoll
Clinical Midwifery Representative

Tēnā koutou. Ko Ngati Pākehā te iwi, he Tangata Tiriti ahau. Ko Kate Nicoll tōku ingoa.

I have been working as a Lead Maternity Care midwife since 2003 and currently work as the SUDI prevention coordinator for Waitaha (Canterbury) employed by a kaupapa Māori health and social services provider whilst maintaining a small midwifery case load. I am also a māmā and kuia within a large and diverse whānau.

I am passionate about my role and responsibilities as he Tangata Tiriti to agitate and implement the changes needing to occur across society to address the ongoing inequities and trauma from colonisation. I am a midwifery standards reviewer and believe that this is a powerful and important place for midwives to consider their role in understanding and challenging these inequities and that recertification requirements need to reflect this.

Beatrice Leatham
Clinical Midwifery Representative

Nei ahau he uri nā ngā kōpara a Rongomaitāpui. Ko Ngāti Porou te iwi, ko Te Whānau a Te Aopare te hapū, ko Paerauta te marae. Ko Beatrice Leatham ahau. For the majority of my 20 year midwifery career I have been an LMC, caring predominately for Māori. I have also practiced as a CORE midwife, an educator, I hold a MHSc and am currently a DHSc candidate.

Up until recently, I practiced in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) however have now moved home to Tūranganui ā Kiwa (Gisborne) where I returned to LMC practice. I strive to contribute to the wider context of the maternity sector, particularly within Māori midwifery. This position, is key to provide a voice for Māori LMC, and Māori midwives. I look forward to being part of a robust forum.

Dr Eva Neely
Consumer Representative

I am mother to two little girls, whose entry into the world showed me how important pregnancy, birth and the transition to motherhood is. Since then I have devoted my research as lecturer to maternal health promotion and become involved as a consumer for Home Birth Aotearoa and the New Zealand College of Midwives. Currently I lecture in Health Promotion at Victoria University of Wellington.

I am excited to be involved in the Aotearoa Midwifery Project because I love working in partnership with midwives to achieve better outcomes for women. I see great value in seeking diverse perspectives from women and bringing them to the table to help inform midwifery care.

Carla Rey Vasquez
Consumer Representative

I have an MA in Cultural Anthropology and have worked in gender research in New Zealand and consumer research in Latin America. I have over ten years’ experience working in formal and non-formal education as a tutor, lecturer and programme manager both locally and internationally. My long-term goal is to support a wide range of community, government and business groups in the areas of diversity and inclusion, gender equity, and access to global online education. I currently serve as the consumer representative for the dispute’s resolutions committee at the NZCOM Wellington branch.

I am involved with the Aotearoa Midwifery Project because I am a recent consumer (mum to a four-year-old and two-year-old) and have a strong passion for supporting women generally and pregnant women and midwives specifically. I am a migrant, originally from Colombia, and seek to proudly represent the interest of migrant women. I hope to use this forum to keep consumers’ perspectives in mind, but I also believe that my professional work in cross-cultural competence, remote work, service design and advocacy will benefit the team.

Glenn Thomas
Consumer Representative

First and foremost, I am a father of two, Edward and Sylvie, at almost six and three and a half respectively, and as such am here as a consumer representative. I am also a New Zealand registered physiotherapist who owns and operates a private practice in Motueka and I have a background in health promotion and primary health care project management.

I am hoping that as a father I can bring a differing perspective to the work being done on the Aotearoa Midwifery Project and contribute in a way that will enhance mother and child wellbeing through enhancing wellbeing of the wider whānau. I am also looking forward to benefiting from being involved in a 'neighbouring' health profession, in which hopefully I can contribute some informed but outside perspective to discussions.

Jeanine Tamati-Elliffe
Consumer Representative

Jeanine (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Te Atiawa, Ngāti Mutunga) is a hākui (mum) of six tamariki – five she has birthed herself, and one borrowed.

She works as the Kaihautū Taunaki Kaupapa | Director – Projects & Innovation for Te Waka Pākākano | Office of Māori, Pacific and Equity at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury. Jeanine is a consumer representative on the Aotearoa Midwifery Project Collective Reference Group and is passionate about the revitalisation of te reo Māori and committed to improving health equity – particularly for whānau Māori.

She provides advice, support and expertise to a range of kaupapa including being a founding member of Māori 4 Kids Inc, a trustee of the Brainwave Trust Aotearoa, Chair of Poipoia Pūmanawa Inc and is a member of the South Island Child Health Alliance.

Kath Boyle
DHB Representatives

I have been a practicing midwife since 2006 working as a LMC, Core and Clinical Midwife Educator. My interest in women’s health was ignited following the birth of my first child nearly 27 years ago at home. Relevant positions I have held are Home Birth Antenatal Educator, Coordinator of the Wellington Home Birth Association and Wellington NZCOM positions include: Consumer Representative on Resolutions Committee; NZCOM Biennial Conference Committee Member; Chair of the NZCOM Wellington Region; Social and Events Coordinator; Newsletter Editor; CORE Work Force Rep; and a Midwifery Standards Reviewer.

As a clinical midwife educator, I am passionate about appropriate, relevant and research based on-going education for our midwives. Working both in the community and in the hospital has given me an awareness of the cultural diversity in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Experience gained, allows me to educate other midwives. It has also given me a broader understanding of the adherence to the principles of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Deb Pittam
DHB Representatives

I am a registered Midwife and have practiced in a variety of settings including, primary and secondary units, rural and urban self-employed community LMC Midwifery practice, team and core midwifery roles and clinical education, management and leadership roles. I am the Director of Midwifery at ADHB and immediate past president of NZCOM.

This is a hugely exciting opportunity in this changing world to ensure the midwifery profession continues to meet the needs of women, babies and whānau in Aotearoa. The landscape within which we practice has changed phenomenally since I qualified in 1990 and fundamental to ensuring we achieve this is the need to review our regulatory framework and ensure we are prepared for the current context of practice.


Leona Dann

I have a master in midwifery and a doctorate in health science and have worked in LMC practice as well as in regional and national midwifery leadership roles. My current role at the Health Quality & Safety Commission focuses on patient safety and resilient health care systems.

I am passionate about improving outcomes for wāhine and improving systems where midwives provide care. My knowledge in leading national maternal morbidity work, and wider patient safety work, brings national and international insights to support a robust and contemporary review of midwifery in Aotearoa. I hope my experience will assist in developing guidance to support midwifery to anticipate, respond, learn and adapt, thereby enabling safe midwifery care to flourish into the future.

Abby Hewitt

I am the Senior Clinical Advisor in the Maternity Team at the Ministry of Health. I have an extensive history working as a midwife in both hospital and community settings. I have focused my midwifery to work predominantly with whānau living with extensive social complexity. Post graduate study in Public Health has given me a better understanding of how the social determinants of health can impact on the well being of those who are living with the highest burden of poverty.

I have chosen to be a part of this project because I am passionate about the role the midwife plays in the health and well being of her community. I feel that an update to the scope of practice to reflect the ever-changing maternity environment, would empower midwives to better provide care for their communities.

Heather Muriwai
Maori Representatives

Ko Taranaki te maunga, ko Aotea te waka, ko Waingongoro te awa, ko Ngati Tupaia raua Ngati Tanewai nga hapu, ko Tangahoe raua Ngati Ruanui nga iwi, ko Wharepuni te marae, ko Heather Kimirongo Rangi Muriwai toku ingoa.

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

I can compare my midwifery career of 24 years to that of a pregnancy, labour and birth journey – it has taken me to uncharted waters, and I have found strengths within myself that I didn’t know existed. I have practised as a homebirth only Community LMC Midwife, a member of a kaupapa Māori NGO midwifery team, the Programme Coordinator of a community breastfeeding service, an educator on the College of Midwives Education Team (ongoing) and am currently employed by Counties Manukau Health as Clinical Lead Advisor, Māori Midwifery. I have continued to maintain a small homebirth caseload alongside these latter roles.  Being involved in the Aotearoa Midwifery Project with the kaupapa of incorporating regulation to improve equitable health outcomes for not only Māori but also Pacifika and disability and mental health populations, brings with it a responsibility to have the voice of Tangata Whenua – Māori midwives – be clearly heard. I accept this position with both respect and humility. Nga mihi nui.

Talei Jackson
Pasifika Representative

I am a Lecturer and Pasifika Liaison Lead in the midwifery programme at AUT. I am the current Co-Chair of Pasifika Midwives Aotearoa (PMWA) and a Pasifika Representative on the NZCOM National Board. I am also undertaking research on sustainability challenges for Pasifika LMC midwives.

The opportunity to be involved in the Aotearoa Midwifery Project, allows me to contribute to policy affecting Pasifika and other minority groups, who have specific perspectives and needs. My relationships and roles within Pasifika, midwifery and educational communities puts me in a privileged position to do this.

Jacqui Anderson
Professional Body Representatives

I have extensive midwifery practice experience in a range of settings, including over 25 years’ experience as an LMC midwife and a broad knowledge of midwifery practice and maternity care in Aotearoa. I was an educator in the Bachelor of Midwifery programme at ARA and a co-head of Midwifery. I am a co-author of chapters in midwifery practice publications and have been a Midwifery Council reviewer for an undergraduate midwifery programme and an NZQA programme approvals panel member. Currently, I am the Midwifery Advisor Quality Assurance for the NZCOM and maintain a small practice. I oversee the NZCOM’s quality assurance processes and am involved in many other aspects of the NZCOM’s work.

In an ever-changing environment the role and scope of practice of a midwife must be able to ensure that midwifery care meets the needs of women and babies and the profession can attract and educate midwives to meet current and future expectations. My focus is on supporting midwives to provide midwifery care that enables and improves outcomes for women and babies. The profession needs to support diversity and accessibility to midwifery education to enable women and whanau to be cared for competently and safely.

My role as midwifery advisor at the NZCOM relates to the quality assurance processes. This project has the potential to change what midwives do, how they do it and what that means for them and for women and whānau. I am deeply interested in contributing to this project so that midwifery practice/care remains relevant, dynamic and responsive into the future.

Mary Kensington
Professional Body Representatives

I am Head of Midwifery and principal lecturer in the Bachelor of Midwifery programme at Ara Institute of Canterbury. I am also the education advisor to the NZCOM National Board. I live in Christchurch with my family and when not at work enjoy being out in the hills or mountains riding my bike or tramping.

The reason I have chosen to be involved in the project is I have an in depth understanding of midwifery education in NZ which includes Scope of Practice, Competencies and pre-Registration Education Standards. I am also committed to ensuring we acknowledge our responsibilities to our Treaty partners under the Te Tiriti o Waitangi. I am excited to be part of a group reviewing practice and education to meet the needs of the 21st century student and midwife.

Jean Te Huia
Professional Body Representatives

Jean Te Huia (Ngāti Kahungunu) is a well-known advocate for Māori health, particularly maternal and child health. While her midwifery and health services are located in Hawke’s Bay, her participation on national advisory committees has enabled her expertise to influence national policies. Her ongoing concern with the discriminatory practices experienced by Māori women seeking maternity care has been a prime motivator of her involvement in the Mana Wahine kaupapa inquiry currently lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal.

Jean has been a midwife for around 30 years, and her accomplishments in health include being the first Māori woman to graduate with a Masters in nursing from Eastern Institute of Technology. To provide health services within local communities, Jean founded Choices Health and Community Services. Jean also helped found a marae at Waimarama, and initiated a reintegration programme that supports prison inmates to prepare for employment, and then find work when they are released.

In acknowledgement of her many contributions to her community, Jean was nominated for a Pride of New Zealand Award in 2015.

Paraone Tai Tin
Tāne Consumer

Wōku Iwi: Ngāti Hineamaru, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Tūwharetoa

Kaupapa: Reo Māori, Reo Rangatira, Mau Rākau

Based in Tūranganui ā Kiwa |Gisborne, Paraone Tai Tin joined the Collaborative Reference Group in November 2020. He is a father, teacher, educator, Tikanga Project Consultant, and an acclaimed cultural advisor. Paraone is a valuable contributor to the group and brings a unique Tāne perspective.