Christina Cawlins’ (pictured on the right, with her son) only had to travel four kilometres from her Māngere central home to the Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre where she was due to give birth on the same weekend as Cyclone Gabrielle hit Auckland.
But despite the weather, Cawlins’ pre-birth nerves were calmed knowing they didn't have far to go..
“I was seeing people being carried out in bath tubs, but my partner reassured me, ‘we’ve got a truck, we’ll be fine’.”
Thankfully for Cawlins and hundreds of mothers from Māngere, the Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre opened in 2019.
However, this isn’t just about convenience. As Cawlins’ current midwife Ellen Worley (pictured on left) says, having a baby in a setting like a birthing unit, dramatically increases the odds of healthier outcomes.
"Wherever possible, and where it's wanted by whanau, a primary unit is a safe place for most women to have babies, supported by decades of evidence.”
Nga Hau Māngere currently receives no government funding to keep its doors open - but this could change.
Following the announcement of a $74 million boost to maternity services, Te Whatu Ora Regional Wayfinder for Commissioning Danny Wu says discussions are ongoing with the current funders of the birthing centre, The Wright Family Foundation.
“We’re certainly interested in keeping primary birthing going in Māngere - but we just need to come to a resolution with the owners of the building,” Wu says.
Wright Family Foundation co-founder Chloe Wright declined to comment for this article, but referred us to her previous comments about why she built it.
“There is such an incredible need in South Auckland and the women there do not get the care they have a right to expect. [Building it] was a bold move and perhaps rather a naive move, but not one I regret because it has made a massive difference to the lives of those women who have been able to stay at Nga Hau."