Nicole Pihema of Ngāpuhi and Te Rarawa descent is the first Māori President, and is currently the chairperson for the Te Taitokerau region of the College.
“I am honoured to have been elected to this important role and look forward to getting my teeth into the many issues challenging our profession at this key time in our history,” she says.
Nicole is a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) midwife in the Bay of Islands and has been a registered midwife since 2010. She currently has many and varied roles related to midwifery and maternity (see below) and has also worked in New Zealand and Australia in Core (hospital-based) midwifery roles. Nicole is a key member of the College of Midwives team working with the Ministry regarding the co-design of a new, more sustainable funding model to replace the Section 88 system.
“The College of Midwives has been working with the Ministry of Health for more than two years to develop a fit for purpose framework that better supports and remunerates community midwives now and in the future. There is no doubt there are challenges facing the maternity service right now. We know the midwifery-led maternity system is not broken, it just needs resourcing and supporting properly. Part of addressing that is the development of a Community Midwifery Organisation that is fit for purpose and will ensure the best use of resources and support of the service, for women and babies. I look forward to continuing this important work,” she says.
College Chief Executive, Alison Eddy says there were two very strong contenders for President, with Nicole and Auckland midwife Caroline Muir standing for the position.
“I congratulate them both for stepping up. Midwifery is an important, challenging and rewarding profession. It takes a lot of dedication and support for midwives to achieve the positive outcomes for women and babies that they do,” she says.
Eddy adds that Nicole’s appointment will support the College’s ambition to fully realise its commitments under Te Tiriti, including the development and support of Māori midwifery and continuing to work towards equitable outcomes for Māori wāhine and pēpi.
“Nicole brings a depth of experience, the support of her peers and the personal qualities needed to lead the profession, and it is a significant step forward for the College to elect its first ever Māori president. I look forward to continuing to work with Nicole in her new role as President,” she says.
Eddy paid tribute to outgoing President Deb Pittam who took the role in 2014.
“I want to sincerely thank Deb for her hard work, and unwavering commitment to the profession. She has had many representative roles in her presidential capacity. I have appreciated her advice and support and am confident that she will continue to remain strongly connected with the College in the future,” she says.
Nicole Pihema is a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) midwife in the Bay of Islands, a member of the interim MOH Maternity Governance Group, a graduate of Ngā Manukura O Apōpō leadership programme, a mentor for Midwifery First Year of Practice (MFYP), a member of the Maternity Clinical Governance team (Northland DHB), Clinical Reference Group member (Midwifery Information System-Badgernet), member of Ngā Manukura O Apōpō (Governance Leadership Group) and Rural Health Alliance of New Zealand, a Competence Reviewer for the Midwifery Council of NZ, and a member of the College’s mediation and co-design teams. She also has undergraduate and graduate qualifications and work experience in business management prior to midwifery.
About The New Zealand College of Midwives:
The New Zealand College of Midwives (the College) is the professional organisation and recognised ‘voice’ for midwives and student midwives in New Zealand.
The College represents more than 90% of all practising midwives and works in partnership with maternity consumer groups such as Plunket, Parents Centre New Zealand, the Home Birth Association and La Leche League to ensure high quality maternity services in New Zealand.
The College sets and actively promotes high standards for midwifery practice and assists midwives to meet these standards through involvement in midwifery education and the Midwifery Standards Review process.
The College provides all new graduates with a mentored intern year called the Midwifery First Year of Practice (MFYP) Programme.
The College works in partnership with associated professional groups such as the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the NZ Society of Anaesthetists, the Royal College of GPs, and the Paediatric Society. It works with district health boards and all other agencies with an interest in maternity services, in order to implement Government strategies that will further improve maternity and midwifery services for New Zealand women and their babies.
The College represents midwifery and women’s health interests to government, health organisations, consumer groups and the general public. The College also plays an active role in midwifery worldwide through its work with the International Confederation of Midwives.
The regulatory body is the Midwifery Council and is responsible for the protection of the health and safety of women and babies during the childbirth process by providing mechanisms to ensure that midwives are competent and fit to practise midwifery. The HPCAA (The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act) provides this regulatory framework.
The College promotes midwifery standards of practice and ongoing education courses for midwives once they are registered. It represents and advocates for midwifery and women’s health interests to government, health organisations, consumer groups and the general public.
The College in the regions:
The College has 10 geographic regions and five sub-regions in the smaller provincial centres. The regions function autonomously and have their own constitutions which align to the national College constitution.
Each region has its own elected office bearers, i.e. Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer, Standards Review Panels, Standards Review Co-ordinators, Resolution Committee members, Education Committee representatives and so on.
Each of the regional chairpersons is part of the National Board (the governance body of the College) which meets three times a year.
The chairpersons therefore have a key role in raising regional midwifery related issues at a national level and ensuring that issues of national interest to midwifery are brought to the regions for comment and feedback.