Midwife Jennifer Joan Crawshaw was found not guilty of manslaughter at the High Court in Dunedin today.

The verdict, which came after 11 hours of deliberation over two days, was greeted with applause and in some cases tears by people in the public gallery, many of whom held babies.

Supporters sang a waiata, and several members of the jury of the three men and nine women for the two-week trial were teary-eyed as they left the courtroom.

Crawshaw, 44, denied the manslaughter of a baby she delivered to a first-time mother on March 14, 2004.

The Crown alleged Crawshaw departed from the standard of care expected of a midwife by trying to accommodate the mother's wishes for a natural delivery, although the baby was a breech presentation.

Outside the courtroom, Crawshaw said a criminal trial was an "inappropriate" way to deal with the case, and the Health and Disciplinary Commissioner and the Midwifery Council provided better forums for such cases.

"Finally, I want to say that this baby girl was a loved and beautiful baby and her passing was one of life's true tragedies," she said.

Crawshaw said she appreciated the support the baby's family had shown during the trial.

The Midwifery Council of New Zealand today expressed its relief at the verdict.

Council chairwoman Sally Pairman said they were pleased for both the family and the midwife that a verdict of not guilty had been reached.

"We are concerned, however, that this case was tried through a criminal court when there are already effective and robust professional processes in place to investigate alleged breaches of ethics and poor practice, including the Health and Disability Commissioner and the Midwifery Council," Ms Pairman said.

The New Zealand College of Midwives also welcomed the verdict.

The college said the criminal court would usually be considered a last resort for such accountability and this case was the first time in the history of midwifery that a midwife had been charged with manslaughter.

"Midwives will be relieved for both the family and the midwife that a not guilty verdict has been reached in this tragic case," said Karen Guilliland, college chief executive.

"However most midwives will remain heavy-hearted about the use of such an adversarial process being the first port of call to decide their competency or that of any other health provider," she said.

Both the council and the college said it was important for the midwifery profession to emphasise that the New Zealand maternity service was a world class one.

- NZPA