Home News & Events Helen Clark To Headline Webinar Celebrating 30 Years Since Law Change In NZ

Helen Clark To Headline Webinar Celebrating 30 Years Since Law Change In NZ

Helen Clark press photo – high res

Media Release


Webinar: Thursday 3rd September 6:00 – 7:00pm (NZ)

The Chief Executive of the New Zealand College of Midwives, Alison Eddy, says they are thrilled to be able to confirm the former PM in the line-up for a webinar celebrating a key change in our law thirty years ago.

Legislation that led to the birth of New Zealand’s women-centered midwifery-led maternity system, was introduced with the passing of Nurses Amendment Act on 22nd August 1990. It was arguably one of the most significant milestones in the evolution of the midwifery profession in New Zealand and this country’s model is now recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the preferred one for maternity care.

Helen Clark, as the then Minister of Health, championed the law change which restored midwifery autonomy enabling New Zealand midwives to once again practice across their full scope, under their own responsibility. The changes allowed midwives to provide care throughout pregnancy, labour and birth and the postnatal period, prescribe medications, order screening and diagnostic tests, refer to specialist doctors and others, attend women in labour and during birth, without medical oversight.

“This webinar is a fantastic opportunity to reflect on what has occurred since the law change, and look to the future. Maternity care is an essential service that touches the lives of many women and their wider whānau. The webinar will provide an historically important record, marking an important anniversary in the development of health and maternity care in New Zealand”, she says.

“The women presenting at the webinar will all bring a unique and important perspective to the discussion. We are fortunate to have as part of the webinar, Helen Clark, Karen Guilliland, Sally Pairman, midwife Sian Burgess, and Kerry Tautogia and Catherine Kaumoana – a daughter and her mum who have experienced the two different maternity systems, across two generations.  There will be an opportunity to ask questions as well,” says Alison Eddy.

The World Health Organisation designated 2020 the Year of the Midwife to acknowledge the vital role midwives play in providing essential and effective health services. When midwives are supported to practice to the full ability of their scope (as in Aotearoa New Zealand), the outcomes for women are improved. This has been demonstrated by research studies in New Zealand and internationally.

College members, other health professionals and members of the public are registering for the webinar, with a limit of 500 spaces.

“There’s a unique opportunity here for us to hear about the positive and life-changing difference midwives make in women’s lives and those of their whānau, and what happened before and since 1990,” says Ms Eddy.

“Since 1990, midwives have become the predominant workforce in maternity care, and fully integrated within the wider health care system.  The changes made in New Zealand 30 years ago, to enable midwives to practice with autonomy are now being applied to other health care professions (such as pharmacists and nurses). Increasingly it is understood, that enabling health professionals to practice to the full breadth of their regulated scope, reduces barriers for families to accessing necessary care, ultimately improving health outcomes.”

Register here for webinar

The College’s Media Kit is available here

WEBINAR: Emancipating Midwifery – reflecting on 30 years of midwifery autonomy

Thursday 3rd September 6:00 – 7:00pm (NZ)



-ENDS-                  For more information, please contact Ali Jones on 027 247 3112.


Speaker 1. Helen Clarkformer PM and Minister of Health in 1990

Speaker 2. Karen Guillilandfirst president and former CE of the College of Midwives

Speaker 3. Sally Pairman – Former president of the College of Midwives now International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) CEO, based at the Hague

Speaker 4. Sian Burgess – Practising midwife through the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

Speaker 5 and 6. Kerry Tautogia and Catherine Kaumoana (daughter and her mother) who have experienced maternity system before and after 1990.


Reference material:

“From autonomy and back again: educating midwives across a century” Sally Pairman

New Zealand College of Midwives • Journal 33 • October 2005


A Snapshot of Midwifery in NZ

“Midwifery in New Zealand re-gained its status as an autonomous profession in 1990”

NZCOM website


Time to recognise midwives” Emma Espiner

Faculty of Medical and Health SciencesHealth and medicine