You can’t fix the problem if you aren’t allowed to talk about it

In the West, we are seeing governments, organisations and activist groups put more time and effort into policing what people say about problems than the problems themselves. One example is the reaction to Whaleoil’s political cartoon about the death of little Moko.


Criticism of abuse is often condemned or censored in New Zealand. Our cartoon in response to an actual event was taken to the Human Rights Commission and this week a midwife was forced to take down her facebook comments about incest and neglect in South Auckland by her former employer.

A sick midwife who posted a heartfelt message about the horrific situations she came across in South Auckland has been forced to take it down.

Former Counties Manukau midwife Danielle Hart-Murray’s 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.

That is a serious threat to make as if she was struck off by the council her career would be over. This is her ex-employer remember but they still have the power to damage her career.

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.

[…] “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.”

[…] A Counties Manukau spokeswoman said Hart-Murray had been asked to remove the post out of concern it breached patient privacy.

[…] 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 […]

-NZ Herald

On her Facebook page, Danielle explained her perspective of what happened.

Middlemore have asked me to take my post down that went wild & it is being referred to Midwifery Council for them to review. I have deleted immediately & informed The Herald and Newshub that nothing will be happening from me as they were primed to want to share it tonight. So if you shared it, can you please remove it ASAP.

I had called Middlemore’s HR x2 and shared it with them before posting, 2 colleagues read it prior & I wasn’t talking about one person in particular at all in fact I couldn’t even tell you anyone it could be. I had positive feedback from Middlemore managers, ex-midwifery tutors, senior midwives and all types of midwives as well as the general public and media. I thought I’d done a thing which would help people.

The post came from a place of only intended attempt to do good, as I don’t get to do much good at the moment given I cannot work, so apologises, my bad, my sad.


The responses on her page were overwhelmingly positive and supportive as well as critical of the censorship.



I don’t believe for one second that they genuinely asked her to take her comments down because it invaded an individuals privacy. If that was the case all she would need to do would be to alter what she wrote to remove anything that might identify an individual or rewrite it slightly so it is more general. The fact that they wanted her to take the entire post down tells us what the real motivation behind their denand was.

These days it seems that it is more of a sin to point out that the emperor has no clothes on than it is to prance around naked.

NOTE: What happened to Danielle is why most of our Guest posts are anonymous. We have had a doctor and a number of nurses share their perspective of New Zealand’s health system on Whaleoil and we have protected their identity. If any other person in New Zealand wants to lift the lid on what is going on inside their profession safely then Whaleoil is the place to go. You can send your post via the tipline which is at the very top of the page or directly to me sb at


Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

If you agree with me that’s nice, but what I really want to achieve is to make you question the status quo, look between the lines and do your own research. Do not be a passive observer in this game we call life.

You can follow me on