“Deliver us from doctors”: The New Zealand model of midwifery and the politics of maternity from 1970

This 2016 cover story for the New Zealand Listener followed academic research which was highly critical of New Zealand’s unique midwifery-led maternity services. Not happy with the way in which those services were represented, the New Zealand College of Midwives College of Midwives complained to the Press Council that the reporting was biased. The Press Council ruled that the article was fair, balanced and accurate, but had reservations about the hippie couple brandishing the banner “Deliver us from doctors”. In this talk, I will argue that this image and the slogan were a fair reflection of the movement that brought about the changes to New Zealand’s maternity system in the 1990s and continued to influence the philosophy, teaching and services in subsequent decades. At the core of my talk is unpacking the meaning of what the New Zealand College of Midwives described as ‘the New Zealand model of midwifery’ which it regarded as ‘world-class’, whilst explaining how and why others held serious reservations.