Maia Wharekura

Maia Wharekura

Self-employed Lead Maternity Carer, Rotorua
Bachelor of Health Science (Midwifery)

Ngāti Kahungunu

The wāhine and whānau she cared for and the midwives who mentored her were the highlights of her studies, says Maia Wharekura who completed a Bachelor of Health Science (Midwifery), supported by a Pu Ora Matatini Midwifery Scholarship.

“I decided to study midwifery because I loved the idea of building a connection with women and whānau while providing care for them over an extended period of time. I came to AUT because it offers a highly regarded midwifery programme. The head of midwifery at the time even held the position of chair of the midwifery council. This experience translated through to the programme and offered a supportive study experience.

“During the programme you’re supported through multiple placements, and working alongside whānau during these placements enabled me to gain hand-on experience. Guided by the midwives, I was able to learn how to safely care for wāhine in pregnancy and labour, and also how to deliver and care for new-born babies. This has made me the midwife I am today.”

While she had many highlights throughout her time at university, the connection with one particular whānau was most memorable for Maia.

“During my studies I worked alongside a midwife who happened to have a return client I was able to support when she was delivering her first and her second baby during my placements. This was very special for me seeing this family grow and being a part of their journey; not just once but twice. This experience came full circle when she stopped me after my graduation ceremony. She was there to see her brother graduate but also happened to see me walk across the stage. She was so excited to see me and watch me graduate. That was the perfect ending to my studies.”

A rewarding career
Since graduating from AUT, Maia now works as a self-employed lead maternity carer, supporting births both at home and in hospital.

“In this role, I care for wāhine and their whānau throughout pregnancy, labour and birth and up to six weeks after birth. I love the whānau that I get to work with and particularly the relationships I get to build. Being there to facilitate a pēpi coming into the world is always a special moment.”

She still frequently draws on the skills she developed throughout her studies at AUT.

“The leadership opportunities that AUT nourished have enabled me to be a confident and competent midwife. I’m now using these leadership skills in my current job as the area representative in Rotorua for the New Zealand College of Midwives, and as a midwife representative on the quality and safety board of the Lakes District Health Board.”

Advice for other students
Maia has some great advice for other students thinking about becoming a midwife.

“Surround yourself with support and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Studies can be hard, particularly a midwifery degree. If it becomes difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the support you have around you from fellow students and mentors makes a big difference in getting you through.”

The support from other students is invaluable, Maia says, and she herself tried hard to help other students while she was at university.

“To support future midwifery students, I became a tāura kaiwhatu in my second and third year at AUT, which gave me the opportunity to offer academic support to other students navigating their way through the programme.”