When Lina applied to receive this award, it was her compassion and determination that made her a stand-out candidate.  Lina is a busy mother to 4 young children (including twins) and is being supported by her husband to complete her degree, which means long hours of work for her husband and many sacrifices for the family along the way.  One of the biggest financial impacts of receiving the award was being able to afford to buy a laptop for her studies – for almost 2 years, she had completed (and passed) all her assignments on her phone.

Less than 10 percent of midwives identify as Māori and less than 3 percent as Pasifika. However, figures from the New Zealand College of Midwives showed 25 percent of Aotearoa’s birthing population in 2018 identified as Māori, and 10 percent as Pasifika.   Lina believes that there are “undeniable and unfortunate” socioeconomic and cultural barriers that exist in these communities which is why it is important that awards such as this exist to support more women to overcome these barriers.

Lina always knew she wanted to do something with her life that “uplifted women” and her own experience of pregnancy and motherhood at the age of 17 is when the seed of midwifery was planted. But not because of the wonderful experience she had, quite the opposite. Lina felt “categorized and judged” as a teen mum during her pregnancy and what should have been a special, wondrous time was shadowed by shame and guilt.
In her own words, Lina vowed that “I would try to the best of my capabilities to become a midwife, no matter how long it took, because I did not want another woman to feel just like I had felt. Women need support and encouragement in the scary, yet magical time that is pregnancy, not judgement……this is was something I would carry with me all the way through my goal of trying to obtain my degree, something that would drive my determination.”

However, things don’t always go to plan and Lina has had to overcome obstacles along the way, including failing a paper that set her back and altered the pathway of her degree. She describes being in a dark place and “wandering along on a lonely pathway” as her cohort graduated without her. But with the support of her AUT lecturers and due to her excellent grades, she was able to fast track on a special reoccurrence pathway and ended up only a few months behind so will complete her degree at the end of this year.  Being the recipient of The KEECT Maori/Pacifika Midwifery Award was also a driving force behind her determination to get back on track as she knew others were invested in her success.

Lina plans to work predominantly in Pacific Island communities solely due to the fact that “we as Pacific Islanders are the most vulnerable for many complications in pregnancy, labour and birth, as well as the post-partum stages. I feel that I am able to educate, connect and form a better partnership with Pacifika women as I am able to relate to their way of thinking both culturally and professionally”.

Lina is profoundly grateful for the support afforded to her from receiving the award and tells “not only did it allow me financial relief in a time I really needed it (such as petrol and parking money when on placements), but it also allowed me more time to refocus on the degree…. thank you for believing in me, supporting me and entrusting me with such an amazing honour”.

We wish her all the best in her midwifery career – she is already a fantastic role model for her family and community, and has proven that hard work, determination and perseverance will triumph over adversity.