Rachael Tau, with newborn William, partner Paul Marsh and Tyreze, 2, at Kaitaia Hospital.
Rachael Tau, with newborn William, partner Paul Marsh and Tyreze, 2, at Kaitaia Hospital.

Midwife becomes race driver to deliver baby to hospital

A HIGH-speed police pursuit in New Zealand's far north rapidly became a police escort to hospital for the speedy delivery of a healthy baby boy.

And couple Rachael Tau and Paul Marsh saw a very different side to their midwife, Naomi Waldron.

It was her job to get Rachael from their town of Mangonui to Kaitaia Hospital before baby William arrived, and she made it, thanks to a police escort for the last few kilometres and some very impressive road skills.

"I didn't think she'd drive like Michael Schumacher," an admiring Paul Marsh said after William had arrived safe and sound.

It all began about 5am, when Rachael's waters broke.

Paul said by 7am it was all on, with plenty of sweating, yelling and a little swearing.

The midwife was called from Kaitaia, but the 30 minutes it took her to arrive was more than enough for the couple's neighbours to offer their assistance.

"They were all keen to help, grabbing sheets and towels," Paul said, but Rachael was adamant that she would deliver the baby in hospital.

Midwife Ms Waldron said she noticed police lights behind her at Awanui but there was no way she could stop - not even for the police.

"Rachael was telling me to go faster or else she was going to have [the baby] in the car," said Ms Waldron, who has worked in the area for three years since graduating.

"I was getting up to 130km/h on the straights but I was quite sure we were going to have a baby on the way. I was prepared to pull over and I had an emergency birthing kit I carry all the time."

Police managed to stop the speeding driver near Pak'n Save.

Senior Sergeant Chris McLellan said he was on his way to work at Kaitaia Police Station in an unmarked car when he saw the speeding 4x4 vehicle at Awanui.

He signalled for the vehicle to stop but she ignored the flashing blue and red lights.

"I engaged in a pursuit. The speeds were getting up there but the vehicle was staying in the lane and the driver was indicating when they passed other traffic. It didn't feel like your normal pursuit that usually involves some erratic driving."

When the driver stopped and explained she had a woman in labour who needed to get to hospital the pursuit became a police escort.

"I took a look at the pregnant woman's face and I knew she wasn't ready to negotiate anything," Mr McLellan, a father of three, said.

"We blocked off the side roads and escorted her like a presidential visit to Kaitaia Hospital."

William was crowning before the car screeched to a halt outside the maternity ward and he arrived about 10 or 15 minutes later, weighing in at seven pounds 15 ounces (3.6kg).

No tickets were issued. Mr McLellan said it was not uncommon for babies to be rushed to hospital but had words of warning: "If you are using this excuse for speeding you better be pregnant."


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