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Ripeka Ormsby (Ngāti Kahungunu) - Midwifery (2005)


posted by Alastair McLean on 4 April 2012

In 2005, life was particularly busy for mother of five Ripeka Ormsby, and her whānau.

In her final year of studying midwifery, Ripeka was training in Hamilton while still living with her whānau in Hastings.

It was an arrangement that required a lot of planning, commitment and family support.

‘It involved sacrifices for so many people. When I went away for classes, it was a sacrifice not being at home with my whānau,’ she said.

‘And other people and extended family were also sacrificing their time, stepping in to support us all, my husband and my children.’

Because of this, Ripeka worked hard to ensure the time spent away from her whānau wasn’t wasted.

So when she learned she had won a John McLeod Scholarship, she saw it as a recognition not only of three years of dogged commitment to her studies, but also of the contribution, support and sacrifices made by her whānau and friends.

Midwifery was not an occupation Ripeka had ever considered. In fact, being a busy, fulltime mother, she thought she wouldn’t want to work with children. And having always being involved in sport, Ripeka considered that’s where she would naturally end up.

That all changed after being present when her sister gave birth - Ripeka decided she wanted to be a midwife.

Despite applications being closed at the time, Ripeka applied for the midwifery programme at Wintec (Waikato Institute of Technology) and was accepted.

‘The rest,’ she said, ‘is history’.

Ripeka loves being a midwife. Her job, she believes, puts her in a unique position that she views as an absolute privilege.

‘There are only a few important things in a woman’s life and giving birth is one of them,’ she said.

‘Getting my degree has allowed me to be present at one of the most important times in a woman’s life. That’s a huge thing. You step into this woman and her family’s life for a short period in one the most personal times ever, and then step out again. It’s amazing for me.’

 Her mahi in Hastings has allowed her to work alongside local iwi authority Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, complement their Hauora services, and network with other midwives. She particularly enjoys their wisdom and the collegial support, advice and guidance they willingly give.

Ripeka acknowledges the need for more Māori midwives. And she is delighted to have her daughter following in her footsteps – she is a recent graduate midwife.

‘There’s never enough Māori anything, including midwives,’ she said.

‘We work with people who come from places of struggle.  To be Māori is to walk into a place of struggle, understand that and work to empower them. And it’s about providing them with good networks through Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, being good examples in what we’re doing and supporting one another.’

Thinking back to the day she received her award in 2005, Ripeka is as amazed now as she was back then.

‘It’s a great achievement. For me, it’s still the same as when I first got it. It’s the personal satisfaction.’