Maternal hub plan 'breach of Treaty'

Hamish Walker
Hamish Walker

Clutha-Southland National MP Hamish Walker has accused the Government of breaching the Treaty of Waitangi in closing the birthing unit at Lumsden Maternity Centre.

The Southern District Health Board has decided to replace the centre with a maternal and child hub as part of a regionwide review of maternity services.

The hub has been bitterly opposed by locals who say it would lead to mothers giving birth on the side of the road due to longer travel times.

Speaking in Parliament last night, Mr Walker said the DHB and the Government had gone ahead with the decision without consulting local iwi.

''They haven't even consulted iwi, and in my books, that's a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi.

''You've basically silenced us. You haven't consulted iwi, and that is a breach of the Treaty.

''If you want to look after Maori, you don't breach the Treaty of Waitangi.

''I think it's incredibly disappointing in 2019, we're in a state where rural New Zealanders are being treated like second-class citizens.''

Following his speech, he told the Otago Daily Times about 12% of births at the Lumsden birthing unit were to Maori and Pacific people.

He said the Government had consistently refused to listen to the concerns raised by the rural Southland community over the past 12 months.

''They have put the lives of rural mums and babies at risk and still refuse to listen.

''After two babies being born in two weeks before reaching a primary birthing unit, the Prime Minister has told me she is satisfied with the standard of care being offered to pregnant Southland mums.

''The true colours of this government is now coming out to play.

''The intention was always to shut Lumsden Maternity hospital, leaving half of Southland without a primary birthing unit.

''Do we need a baby death before this Government listens to our concerns?''

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