The end of an era has been marked by an emotional closing ceremony for Waikato District Health Board’s Matariki Birthing Unit in Te Awamutu.
Allie Taylor-Werahiko was the last woman to give birth under the DHB’s midwifery team.
“I was quite nervous that I wouldn’t be able to birth here, this is the third child I have had here,” she said.
As the sound of a waiata resonated through the unit, dignitaries, staff and many women who had birthed at Matariki wandered through for the last time.
Waikato DHB deputy chair Sally Christie said the ceremony gave people an opportunity to mourn the loss of the service but celebrate its new phase.
“It feels very different here to what it was like at Morrinsville (Rhoda Read Birthing Unit), it (Matariki) still has life and something to move on to,” she said.
The board have signed over the service to the community trust, Te Awamutu Birthing Ltd, who will continue to provide services at Matariki until they complete construction of a new facility in Te Awamutu later this year.
“On behalf of the board I want to acknowledge the enormity of this decision and just how painful it was – we understood that,” said Christie.
Grandmother Maude Hemara-Wahanui said Matariki had become whanau.
“I am the grandmother to 35 grandchildren. This place has become part of the generations, when it is taken away it feels as though you are taking part of our whanau,” she said.
“It is not just the loss of some walls but of our memories.”
Director of nursing and midwifery Sue Hayward said the unit had provided more than just bricks and mortar.
“It is about the skills and training each of midwives brought to the babies they delivered. Although this is a sad time for many of you it is now about handing on those skills to a new set of midwives that can continue this service,” she said.
Mayor Jim Mylchreest said it was a sad day to see the unit close but he was excited to work alongside the new trust.
“We did our best to keep it open, my wife and I have had five babies come through the unit, but really this is just another phase in our maternity centre’s life,” he said.
Te Awamutu Birthing Limited will take over services from 8am Sunday morning.
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