A sick midwife's heartfelt message about horror cases in South Auckland has struck a chord with other midwives around the country.
Former Counties Manukau midwife Danielle Hart-Murray's Facebook post describing the poor health of many children, young women impregnated by relatives, and terrible living conditions went viral with 474 shares in the week since she posted it.
But yesterday her former employer, Counties Manukau District Health Board, told her to take it down because the DHB feared it was breaching confidentiality. The board also told her the issue would be referred to the Midwifery Council.
Since the Herald published a story about her situation this morning she had been inundated with support.
She said all the feedback she had received was positive. The Herald also received letters of support commending the midwife for bringing the issues to light.
Hart-Murray's Facebook post explained that although she grew up in a low decile school in Tauranga and worked at a hospital in Vanuatu she was still shocked by what she saw while working for Middlemore Hospital.
Without naming anyone she described teenagers with "rickets, bronchiectasis from neglect, infections, damage from lifelong abuse and neglect, who have never had an education, have learning deficits because of it but also due to the environment to which they were subjected to in utero. Oh and they're pregnant to their much older brother potentially, or their father, who knows."
She wrote of the abuse of children from the time they were infants, middle-aged women born in New Zealand who needed interpreters because their parents were immigrants and they didn't get an education, and a family of six who felt lucky their cousin was allowing them to stay in the single-car garage of the rundown state home he had just been given.
"Its old, cold, there's no running water, rats and it's mouldy," Hart-Murray wrote of the garage. "The baby to come will sleep in the bed with the parents and three toddlers, unless I can find an alternative in time. At least the baby will be warm, but that's not going to improve [the] atrocious rates of SUDI New Zealand has. It's better than the relatives van in a dodgy carpark, where the parents take turns staying awake to protect them. [sic]"
Hart-Murray said she would pay for important prescriptions herself from time to time because many families could not afford them once they had paid for food.
One pregnant teenager she saw was forced to live with a relative in a house where she had to share a bed with two teenage boys. Used needles and condoms were on the floor and there was a pile of used adult nappies and human excrement in the house, which didn't have a toilet.
The point of the post was to encourage people to remember they were voting in tomorrow's election not just for themselves but for what was best for the country - including the most deprived, she explained.
"I don't think a lot of New Zealand is aware of what really goes on for so many people here in Aotearoa. It's a largely hidden shame we'd rather not see."
Hart-Murray is not working as a midwife after having had successful treatment for a benign tumour. She is now suffering cardiac trouble.
She said on her Facebook page that she had been overwhelmed by the response to the post from midwives who had similar stories to tell.
When contacted by the Herald Hart-Murray said she was unable to talk about it because of the complaint being laid.
It was never her intention to single anybody out, she said, so she removed the post as soon as she was asked to.
A Counties Manukau spokeswoman said Hart-Murray had been asked to remove the post out of concern it breached patient privacy.
"Staff members recognised the cases referred to in the post and Counties Manukau Health acted quickly to have the post removed."
A Midwifery Council spokeswoman said it had not received a complaint about Hart-Murray's post.
When it came to social media, the council told midwives the confidentiality and privacy of their clients was paramount, she said.
Women's Health Action maternal and child health manager Isis McKay said it was encouraging to see a health professional trying to shed light on the realities of life for some Kiwis.
"We support her intention to increase the awareness about the families and women and children living in deprivation in South Auckland," she said.
"It's important we don't bury our heads in the sand. We shouldn't take the approach that it's all for one and one for all - we do have a responsibility to look after each other."