New Zealand midwives have chosen to attempt to reach a solution to their gender equity case outside of the court room.

The College of Midwives had lodged a claim, under the Bill of Rights Act, that was due to be heard in the Wellington High Court on Monday.

Today, it's chosen to accept an "eleventh hour offer" by the Ministry of Health to have the case heard in mediation.

However, if an agreement cannot be reached within three months the college would be able to take it back to court.


College chief executive Karen Guililand said it was exciting to finally be able to meet with key decision makers on an "equal basis as other health professionals".

"We were prepared to go to court because it seemed we had no alternative," she said.

"We made numerous attempts to have serious discussions with the Ministry of Health over conditions and pay equity but had got nowhere.

"This is the first time we have had an unencumbered offer, to discuss and negotiate with executive decision makers within the Ministry."

She said the issue of gender-equity would remain a central point of discussion.

"We are not a union, we are not litigators, we are midwives caring for women and their babies and we want to be able to continuing doing just that within a safe and sustainable maternity service."

The College said midwives are being discriminated against on the basis of gender because their pay and conditions have not kept pace with that of traditionally male-dominated professions carrying similar levels of education and responsibility.

How does it compare?
Self-employed midwife: $40,000-$60,000
Receptionist: $33,000-$50,000
Firefighter: $43,000-$61,000
Primary school teacher: $46,000-$72,000
Registered nurse: $47,000-$64,000
Police (with 1-4 years' experience): $52,000-$57,000
Paramedic: $58,000-$72,000
GP: $70,000-$175,000