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The theme for the 2014 conference was all about maintaining and sustaining the bridges and connections that are the key to supporting midwives, maternity services and women in Aotearoa.

This, the 13th Biennial National Conference was an inspiring and successful 3 day programme combining plenary and concurrent sessions. The 700 delegates were welcomed to Hamilton’s Claudelands Conference and Exhibition Centre by the local iwi and local midwives during the powhiri. This was followed by the opening ceremony which featured Minister of Health Tony Ryall and Labour spokesperson on health Annette King along with entertainment from the Waikato River tones (a local choir which included midwives).

The international speakers were Professor Lesley Page, President of the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Midwives and Bashi Hazard, a Sydney based lawyer and campaigner for women’s rights in childbirth. Lesley Page spent some time before the conference with midwives in Christchurch and told the audience that the New Zealand maternity services in which continuity of care is embedded into the service is “simply stunning’ and that New Zealand is “an example to the rest of the world”.

For Bashi Hazard being amongst New Zealand midwives at conference was hugely supportive as she told often quite harrowing stories of women from around the world being made to give birth in hospitals where their human rights were breached. Judith McAra-Couper, Head of Midwifery at Auckland University of Technology and Chair of the Midwifery Council gave the Joan Donley Oration in which she called on midwives to stop the increasing use of intervention during birth with a rally cry of “Enough is enough”.

Over the three days of conference there were differing viewpoints and discussions on many aspects of midwifery and maternity with six panel discussions and over 40 concurrent sessions. There were 62 exhibitors at this year’s conference and representatives from the various companies and organisations were able to mingle easily with delegates during breaks.

Karen Guilliland, Chief Executive of the College presented a closing address in which she looked at maternity outcomes and future challenges. Deb Pittam was welcomed as the newly elected President of the College with Sue Lennox, the outgoing President thanked for her contribution over her two year term.

We were entertained with The Tim Armstrong Band at the Saturday night dinner and the Wai Taiko (drums) and Waikato Punjabi Cultural Club (dance) at the closing ceremony.

The New Zealand College of Midwives would like to thank all that attended, presented, entertained and exhibited. Additionally thanks go to all those involved in organising and assisting with its 13th Biennial National Conference.


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