New Zealand women’s sexual reproductive health rights and access to care is among the best in the world, but we need to keep progressing to ensure young women don’t face discrimination, says local Tukituki MP, Catherine Wedd. “We are trailblazing and we are world leaders, but there’s always work to do.”

Wedd recently attended an international conference on the subject, where she represented New Zealand as the chair of the New Zealand Parliamentarian Population and Development Group (NZPPD). The NZPPD includes members from different political parties, focused on advancing sexual health and reproductive rights in the Pacific. 

The support available to NZ women regarding sexual reproductive health, including access to contraception, maternal health, cervical testing and addressing period poverty, is among the most progressive in the world. We need to keep up the progress in this area, says Wedd.

Tukituki MP Catherine Wedd

As part of this, she is advocating for a family planning centre in Hawke’s Bay. There is currently no such service in the region. This would give women greater access to contraception and family planning and relieve pressure on GPs.

Another area of focus is extended postnatal care and support for new mums. Wedd’s Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) (3 Day Postnatal Stay) Amendment Bill, which was pulled from the ballot last month, would give new mums three days of postnatal care if wanted or needed. 

Under the current law, mums are allowed to stay in hospital for two days after giving birth. 

“Giving mothers this extra time and extra flexibility will result in positive outcomes for mother, baby, and family from two to three days in a supportive environment and dedicated facility,” says Wedd.

On a global stage, New Zealand is a leader when it comes to the choice women have over their bodies and supporting their sexual reproductive needs.

The free period products in schools programme, which was set up by the former Labour government in 2021, is one example of New Zealand leading the way in women’s sexual reproductive health. The programme provided funding over three years towards the distribution of products to schools to ensure young women don’t miss school because they don’t have access to period products. 

The National government has extended the programme, with a $2.9 million commitment to enable intermediate and secondary schools to continue to provide period products to those who need them.

In spite of recent Ministry of Education job cuts, Wedd confirmed the free period products in schools programme would not be affected. 

An Otago University study estimated up to 95,000 young New Zealand women could be missing school because of a lack of access to period products. Maori, Pasifika and less well-off students are disproportionately affected.

Our Pacific neighbours have some of the worst health and social development indicators globally. These include low contraceptive rates, high adolescent birth rates, and high rates of sexual and gender-based violence.

In fact, recent modelling estimates one in three women of reproductive age in the Pacific have an unmet need and New Zealand has responsibility to help, says Wedd. 

New Zealand supports Pacific countries by providing critical health and education services and funding various Sexual Reproductive Health programmes.


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  1. Hawke’s Bay in the past had a family planning clinic which ran at different time which I used
    I also had the benefit of staying in hospital for over a week after my first baby
    Seems to me things go full circle
    I agreee mums need the option of staying longer if they choose

  2. This article provides an insight into Catherine Wedd’s priorities and is a positive story in an otherwise gloomy news era. I feel I know almost nothing about Catherine Wedd and yet she represents our electorate, perhaps she keeps a low profile (when compared to her predecessor Anna Lorck) or am I just uninformed?

    1. Kay Bazzard If you follow her Facebook Page you will find she’s very active and engaging with all kinds of things. I never heard anything of Anna when she was our representative (until election time) It’s only early days, so give her a chance…

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