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2 MARCH 2021

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) is pleased to announce the appointment of Nikki Hurst as Executive Officer.

NZCCSS president Bonnie Robinson says the appointment follows a comprehensive recruitment process that generated good interest in the position.

“This is a special role and we’re excited to welcome Nikki. She has an energy and excitement for the task. She is committed to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to working in a collaborative way,” says Bonnie.

Nikki comes to the position with a strong academic background, most recently working for The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand as its National Programme Delivery Manager. Prior to that she was a Programme Coordinator and Principal Academic at Auckland’s Unitec Institute of Technology.

Along with high-level strategic and critical thinking skills, Nikki brings valued proficiency in research and evaluation, and an ability to develop effective solutions to complex problems.

Before entering academia, Nikki retrained from her earlier career in accounting, attaining an MA in counselling (first class) from Massey University.

Bonnie says that, importantly for NZCCSS, Nikki has a long-held heartbeat for children and youth. “Over the years, she has balanced her professional life with a commitment to working as a volunteer, particularly with children.”

This includes organisations such as youth-development body Ara Taiohi and Korowai Tupu, Sticks ‘n Stones and Well Women Charitable Trust.

“Her experience at both governance and operational levels has given her an indepth insight into the challenges of the NGO sector, and how good policy impacts lives.”

Nikki says that the Council’s Christian values resonate deeply with her own. “Hope and authenticity are my key personal values and I’m really looking forward to building the connections and working to bring about change.”

She is also gladly anticipating the prospect of finally melding her day job with her ‘spare time’ interests. “I’ll now be able to do what I love in my volunteer life in my fulltime work.”

 Nikki replaces former Executive Officer Trevor McGlinchey and takes up the role from Monday, 22 March 2021.

Originally published here.

Message from Ministry for Pacific Peoples

24 August 2020

Warm Greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,  Faka Talofa atu ki te Malu o Koulua i te Igoa o te Aliki ko Iesu Manumalo, Faka Talofa atu ki te Mamalu o Tokelau kua afifio mai i te Igoa pele o Iehu Manumalo, Ni sa bula vinaka ena yacai Jisu Karisito, Kam na bane ni mauri Mitinare, Mataniwi,  Noa’ia e mauri gagaj ‘atakoa,  

 We pray that your families and congregations are safe and well, and we especially keep in prayer our families and communities that have been so impacted through the recent Covid-19 cases in Auckland.

 Over the last week, the  Ministry for Pacific Peoples along with our Auckland District Health Boards(DHBs), Ministry of Health(MoH), Ministry of Social Development(MSD), and a number of our key Pacific Providers in Auckland, have been meeting daily with Church Leaders to share, update, inform, hear and respond to the concerns, needs, and issues from communities. Our Zono have been very useful to listen, clarify and help agencies and providers to understand the community needs, issues, and try to respond as quickly as possible. To ensure important information is shared as widely as possible across our communities, and providing opportunities for us to converse and engage in our own native tongues, we have organised ethnic specific Zono for our key Pacific groups to be held as follows:

Tokelau, Tuesday 25 August, 5.00pm -6.30pm

 5.00pm Opening Prayer

               Opening Remarks – MPP CEO, Afioga Laulu Mac Leauanae

5.06pm MOH Clinicians/Health Professional -Dr

5.30pm MSD representatives – Financial assistance avenues, Food assistance, social wellbeing supports

5.45pm Pacific Providers representatives – Welfare support assistance, Social Services support services   

6.00pm Tokelau Leaders – questions, feedback, issues and concerns

6.25pm Closing Prayer

 Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 931 5558 5832, Passcode: 410103

Tuvalu, Tuesday 25 August, 7.00pm - 8.30pm

7.00pm Opening Prayer

              Opening Remarks – MPP CEO, Afioga Laulu Mac Leauanae

7.06pm MOH Clinicians/Health Professional- Dr Esela Natano

7.30pm MSD representatives

7.45pm Pacific Providers representatives – Pasifika Futures, The Fono, Southseas Healthcare, & others

8.00pm Tuvalu Leaders – questions, feedback, issues and concerns

8.25pm Closing Prayer

 Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 931 5558 5832, Passcode: 410103

Fiji, Wednesday 26 August, 4.00pm -5.30pm

 4.00pm Opening Prayer

              Opening Remarks – MPP CEO, Afioga Laulu Mac Leauanae

4.06pm MOH Clinicians/Health Professional – Dr Apisalome Talemaitoga

4.30pm MSD representatives

4.45pm Pacific Providers representatives

5.00pm Fiji Leaders – questions, feedback, issues and concerns

5.25pm Closing Prayer

 Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 931 5558 5832, Passcode: 410103


Rotuma, Wednesday 26 August, 6.00-7.30pm

 6.00pm  Opening Prayer

               Opening Remarks – MPP CEO, Afioga Laulu Mac Leauanae

6.36pm  MOH Clinicians/Health Professional – Dr

7.00pm  MSD representatives

7.15pm  Pacific Providers representative

7.30pm  Rotuma Church Leaders – questions, feedback, issues and concerns

7.55pm  Closing Prayer

 Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 931 5558 5832, Passcode: 410103

Kiribati, Wednesday 26 August, 8.00-9.30pm

8.00pm  Opening Prayer

               Opening Remarks – MPP CEO, Afioga Laulu Mac Leauanae

8.06pm  MOH Clinicians/Health Professional – Dr

8.30pm  MSD representatives

8.45pm  Pacific Providers representative

9.00pm  Rotuma Church Leaders – questions, feedback, issues and concerns

9.25pm  Closing Prayer

 Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 931 5558 5832, Passcode: 410103


Samoa, Cook Islands, Thursday 27 August, 5.00pm and 7.00pm

Niue, Tonga, Friday 28 August, 5.00pm and 7.00pm

 Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 931 5558 5832, Passcode: 410103

We look forward to you meeting with you again, and ask that you feel free to share our invitation to fellow Church and Community leaders, particularly those who have not had the opportunity to join our Zono thus far and look forward to them joining us.

 May we please ask if you could let us know if you are attending our Zono, via email to


Funding Announcement: Ageing and Māori

Congratulations to Dr Catherine Love and Professor Brendan Hokowhitu and their respective teams for successful research proposals - Ageing and Māori. 

In June 2019, Ageing Well National Science Challenge was allocated $20.3M in funding as part of the second phase of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) research investment. Over the next five years (July 2019 - June 2024), Ageing Well will utilise this funding to address two focus areas of research: Health and Wellbeing in Ageing and Ageing and Māori. The Health and Wellbeing in Ageing research will provide older New Zealanders with the opportunities and tools to support their own physical and mental abilities.  The Ageing and Māori research will contribute to positive Māori ageing through Māori-led research undertaken in collaboration with key stakeholders. 

Ageing Well allocated $10M in 2019 to fund research programmes in these two focus areas. This funding was distributed equally between the Health and Wellbeing in Ageing and Ageing and Māori research areas. Dr Louise Parr-Brownlie, Co-Director Māori, confirmed that “Ageing Well is committed to equitable outcomes for kaumātua. We have invested half of our funding into programmes that will support positive Māori ageing. This is critical because the number of older Māori will more than double in the next 20 years.”

Today, Ageing Well is delighted to announce the awarding of $5M towards the Ageing and Maōri programme of research. The Director of Ageing Well, A/Prof Debra Waters, said “I am thrilled the Challenge is funding two high quality programmes of research that will positively impact Māori kaumātua and their whānau both now and into the future.”
Tai Kaumātuatanga Older Māori Wellbeing and Participation: Present and Future Focus 
Dr Catherine Love – Programme Leader 
$2.5M (2019 – 2023) 
As the number of older Māori increases there is a need to develop more information about their strengths and vulnerabilities. This research, through a country wide survey asking kaumātua about their experiences and quality of life, and a two year follow up, aims to provide information for policy formation, environmental planning and culturally responsive services. This survey will also be complemented by an in-depth qualitative study that asks them about their lives as kaumātua and their understanding of their roles, inter-generational relationships and the knowledge they pass on. The research will be co-designed with them to ensure that it can be of the most use to them and the groups they belong to. The research findings will contribute to better service provision and strengthen kaumātuatanga and kaumātua contribution to whānau and the country. 
Kaumātua Mana Motuhake Pōi: Enhancing Wellbeing, Social Connectedness and Cultural Identity 
Professor Brendan Hokowhitu – Programme Leader 
$2.5M (2019 – 2023) 
This research aims to build on kaumātua strengths to enhance hauora (holistic approach to health) and mana motuhake (autonomy, identity and self-determination) through collaborative research network including academic and community researchers, kaumātua service providers and other stakeholders.  Two health research projects will be conducted: i)  a tuakana-teina peer educator model where kaumātua help other kaumātua in need to identify and utilise key health and social services and ii) an inter-generational model for increasing physical activity and cultural knowledge exchange including te reo Māori. The projects include co-design and co-implementation processes with kaumātua, kaumātua service providers and other health and social service experts. Hauora and mana motuhake will be measured before and after the projects are implemented. The anticipated impacts include the creation of culturally appropriate and sustainable projects that support kaumātua to age well.

Congratulations to the research teams and thank you to our community for your continued support. 

Ageing Well Newsletter

July 2019

Our Mission: to add life to years for all New Zealanders

Newsletter Topics


Director's Update

Tēnā koutou,Dr Dianne McCarthy

Welcome to our July newsletter.
Many of you will have seen the announcement of the successful Health and Wellbeing in Ageing research programme “Ageing Well through Eating, Sleeping, Socializing and Mobility, AWESSoM" led by Prof Ngaire Kerse.  We are impressed with the research and team that Prof Kerse has brought together to deliver on this exciting programme of research. We will be making an announcement about the Ageing and Maori focus area very soon. 
We are also pleased to announce three successful Emergent Opportunities research projects. We are delighted to support additional research that has come directly from our Tranche 1 projects and another round of Emergent Opportunities funding will be announced later this year. Please see our funding announcement below for more detail on these projects.
I would like to thank everyone who has been involved with the Ageing Well Challenge to date. This is an exciting time as we move forward into our next 5 years of research investment and also see the outcomes and impact from the research conducted in Tranche 1. These achievements would not have been possible without you and we look forward to continue working together over the coming 5 years.
Ngā mihi,
Assoc. Prof. Debra Waters
Director, Ageing Well NSC 

Ageing Well National Science Challenge Announces Emergent Opportunities Grant Recipients

Ageing Well National Science Challenge is pleased to announce the awarding of three “Emergent Opportunities” grants. The Emergent Opportunities grants were established to provide funding for unexpected research ideas that have been identified from Ageing Well projects in Phase One. While the projects must develop ideas, methodologies, tools or technologies that emerged from Phase One projects, the proposed projects must also align with the Ageing Well Phase Two Focus Areas: Health and Wellbeing in Ageing and Ageing and Māori.

Each project award is for up to $200,000, for a period of 12 months. Two projects have been funded under the Health and Wellbeing in Ageing focus area and one under the Ageing and Māori focus area.


Dr Katherine Bloomfield, University of Auckland 
Frailty trajectories, resilience and quality of life (QoL) in the retirement village community: a vulnerable group. 

This research aims to assess:

  • The effects of a multidisciplinary team intervention on frailty trajectories by repeating interRAI-Community Health Assessment (CHA) on the original Retirement Village intervention participants; 
  • Frailty prevalence and trajectories in all Retirement Village Phase One participants; and 
  • The relationship between frailty, resilience and quality of life. 

The research will also validate quality of life (QoL) items in interRAI-CHA by a validated QoL tool, and assess the relationship between baseline frailty and healthcare outcomes, such as hospitalisations and entering residential care.
Dr Ruth Teh, University of Auckland 
Towards optimizing vitality in older adults

The aim of this project is to co-design a lifestyle intervention programme - “Ageing Well in Outdoor Gym” (AWinOG) with older Māori. Kaumātua will be involved in developing a conceptual framework for the programme at a two-day focus group.  Over a three month period kaumātua will carry out gardening activities and record observations related to strength, balance and flexibility. At the end of three months, the group will reconvene to review the process, data collected and formalise the programme.


Dr Marama Muru-Lanning, University of Auckland 
‘Mā mua ka kite a muri; mā muri ka ora a mua’: Community responsibilities for kaumātua wellbeing in two Tai Tokerau rohe. 

This research will explore intergenerational support for kaumātua health in two Tai Tokerau communities, using a kaupapa Māori approach and including qualitative, ethnographic and oral history techniques. Its objectives are to examine kaumātua, whanau, iwi and health services discourse on responsibility for kaumātua health. The research also aims to probe more deeply into historic, cultural and social context of wellbeing, health and health service usage in these rohe.
For more information on our projects and the funding opportunities available through Ageing Well National Science Challenge, please visit our website

Save the date: Ageing Well Together Conference

conference save the date

Celebrating the achievements of our first phase of research, Ageing Well will host a national conference on Friday 15th November 2019.

The conference will be held in Wellington at Te Wharewaka Tapere.  

Registration details for the conference will be provided in due course, and information will continue to be uploaded to our conference website 

Community Engagement

Ageing Well at Inland Revenue (IRD) Health, Safety and Wellbeing Expo

Ageing Well was invited to present our Well Balanced Exhibit at Inland Revenue's Health and Safety Committee's "Health, Safety and Wellbeing Expo" in Wellington. The expo was held on the 9th of July, and brought together a diverse range of wellness and health related functions and organisations for about 3,000 IRD staff members. 

well balanced exhibit

The Well Balanced Exhibit engages the public and demonstrates how strength and balance changes throughout the life course by encouraging participants to test a range of physical functions such as balance, grip and muscle strength. At the expo we were able to provide information on participants' strength and balance compared to others of a similar age, and what they can do to improve those abilities. 

Ageing Well was represented at the Expo by Manager Lisa Davis and Communications Manager Dr Vanisha Mishra-Vakaoti. You can read more about the Well Balanced Exhibit here. Our goal is for as many groups as possible to use the exhibit and experience the benefits of this entertaining and educational resource. The exhibit if now fully transportable, either in part or in full. If you are interested in using the Well Balanced Exhibit, please contact us. 

Introducing our new Business Support Coordinator

Ageing Well is delighted to announce that we have appointed a new Business Support Coordinator, Jasmine Chu.   

Jasmine Chu has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Otago. After graduating she gained skills and experiences from holding various positions at the University of Otago, including working for the External Engagement Division to assist the Events Hub and 150 years anniversary team. She also completed an internship with the International Office, helping to develop their marketing content. 

Welcome to the team, Jasmine! 

Rotuman Language Week 2019

Appointments of Associate Dean Pasifika at Massey University, College of Health

 Our PVC Jane Mills is pleased to announce the appointment of three Associate Deans Pasifika for the College. 

  • Dr Moses Faleolo, School of Social Work Auckland, 0.1 FTE
  • Dr Ridvan Firestone, Centre for Public Health Research Wellington, 0.1 FTE
  • Dr Tracie Mafile’o, School of Social Work Manawatu, 0.2 FTE

Dr Faleolo will focus on community engagement, Dr Firestone on recruitment and Dr Mafile’o on Pacific student success.
We would like to thank them for their commitment to the College and our Pasifika communities and look forward to working with them.


Left to right: Dr Moses Faleolo, Dr Ridvan Firestone and Dr Tracie Mafile’o


Dianne Sika-Paotonu

 (Left: Dianne Sika-Paotonu)


Media Release

A simpler means of cancer diagnosis and monitoring, using small fragments of tumour DNA circulating in the bloodstream, could be a lifeline for Pacific patients in particular.

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu, Associate Dean (Pacific) at the University of Otago, Wellington, has just been awarded a Pacific Health Research Career Development Award by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC).

With her $195,162 Sir Thomas Davis Te Patu Kite Rangi Ariki Fellowship, she will investigate the potential use of a simple blood test to identify circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) for the purpose of detecting cancer at an earlier stage.

Circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) refers to small fragments of tumour DNA found in the blood circulation, recognised by the presence of mutations in cancer genes. 

Work in New Zealand led by Professor Parry Guilford, and supported by the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge, has demonstrated that these DNA fragments can be isolated and quantified to obtain information about a cancer's size and progression – so they can tell us how a tumour is behaving. 

Dr Sika-Paotonu says there are also indications that ctDNA technology could be extended to develop a simple blood test to detect cancer, which does not require a hospital visit. This will enhance the precision of cancer diagnostics and surveillance, and lead to improved health outcomes for Pacific people by allowing earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Tumours are usually picked up using biopsies, but Dr Sika-Paotonu says this can be a significant barrier to care in Pacific countries where access to healthcare is limited and the cancer burden is growing.

"Sometimes it’s not that easy to get to a tumour and take a biopsy. Most biopsies will require some level of surgical intervention, so that compared to a blood test is a very striking difference,” she says.

"Instead of using ctDNA technology to only monitor treatment progress, we're trying to target the beginning stages and detect cancer at a much earlier time-point when it is more likely to be treated successfully."

While development work in this area is still required, Dr Sika-Paotonu will explore the applicability of this potential technology in resource-constrained environments. 

Diagnostic methods are difficult to access in the Pacific region and treatment options are limited and expensive, she says. Often cancer is picked up late and palliative care becomes the only remaining option for many people.

Dr Sika-Paotonu will engage with Pacific health professionals, practitioners and Pacific participants within New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands. “In addition to this research work being Pacific-led, it is absolutely essential that Pacific voices and perspectives are represented and included in a way that will help guide the direction of this work moving forward.”

She adds that the career development award is part of fulfilling a promise she made as a child. "When I was little I promised my mother I was going to cure cancer – and of course she keeps reminding me of my promise, so I’ve always gravitated towards cancer research.”

The HRC has supported Dr Sika-Paotonu on a number of research projects to date, where she’s developed her strengths and commitment to reducing health inequities.

The HRC’s manager of Pacific Research Investment, Tolotea Lanumata, says it’s important to support biomedical researchers who explore problems and solutions in partnership with those they’re trying to help. 

“Dianne’s approach on this project is to understand the perspectives and experiences of Pacific people with cancer, in order to ensure that any new diagnostic method will not only be clinically relevant but also address barriers to care that Pacific people currently face.” 

The HRC today announced 22 Pacific Career Development Awards worth $1,548,043. See below for the full list of recipients.


Sir Thomas Davis Te Patu Kite Rangi Ariki Fellowship

  • Dr Apo Aporosa, University of Waikato
    • Improving road safety and health: understanding kava’s impact on driver fitness, 30 months, $278,018
  • Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu, University of Otago
    • The applicability of ctDNA as a diagnostic tool for early cancer detection,24 months, $195,162

Pacific Clinical Research Training Fellowship

  • Ms Soana Muimuiheata, Auckland University of Technology
    • Food and diabetes: the underlying factors that determine food practices of Tongan people, 24 months, $222,433
  • Dr Malama Tafunai, University of Otago 
    • Prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease in Samoan residents in New Zealand and Samoa, 36 months, $320,000

Pacific Health Research PhD Scholarship

  • Ms Heimata Herman, The University of Auckland
    • Health-related policies in schools in the Cook Islands, 36 months, $129,200
  • Mrs Amio Ikihele, The University of Auckland 
    • An mHealth approach: Reducing CVD risk among Pacific people living in NZ, 36 months, $128,600
  • Miss Alvina Pauuvale, The University of Auckland 
    • Mobilising adolescents to drive health improvements in the Glen Innes community, 36 months, $129,201
  • Mr Chris Puliuvea, The University of Auckland 
    • Enhancement of T cells for use in adoptive immunotherapy protocols, 36 months, $21,650

Pacific Health Research Masters Scholarship

  • Ms Tumanu Futi, University of Otago 
    • Is elevated cardiac fibrosis in Pacific patients associated with reduced klotho?, 12 months, $32,535
  • Mrs Amy Henry, University of Otago 
    • Staying at home: A qualitative descriptive study on Pacific palliative care, 12 months, $31,244

Pacific Knowledge Translation Grant

  • Mrs Amio Ikihele, Moana Research 
    • Sexting and NZ-born Niuean adolescent females, 6 months, $5,000

Pacific Health Research Summer Studentship

  • Miss Toni Anitelea, University of Otago 
    • The immunogenetics of Rheumatic Fever and rheumatic heart disease, 3 months, $5,000
  • Mr Adam Faatoese, University of Otago 
    • The applicability of ctDNA as a tool for early cancer detection, 3 months, $5,000
  • Ms Bridie Laing, University of Otago
    • What are the reformulation preferences of children and young people receiving regular BPG injections?, 3 months, $5,000
  • Miss Meleseini Manukia, The University of Auckland
    • Vitamin and mineral supplements among Pacific People, 3 months, $5,000​
  • Miss Leueta Mulipola, The University of Auckland
    • Redefining the social construct of depression through Samoan views, 3 months, $5,000
  • Miss Oprah Pupi, University of Otago
    • The anti-cancer properties of traditional remedies, 3 months, $5,000
  • Mrs Miriam Sundborn, Auckland University of Technology
    • Can health promotion programmes in schools reduce dental caries, 3 months, $5,000
  • Miss Fuakava Tanginoa, University of Otago
    • Kids’Cam, 3 months, $5,000
  • Mr Fati Tapu, Massey University
    • Compilation of Pacific Social Work Resource, 3 months, $5,000
  • Mr Jordan Taylor, University of Otago 
    • Longitudinal quantification of unique Escherichia coli strains, 3 months, $5,000
  • Miss Machaela Tepai, The University of Auckland 
    • Systematic review and clinical audit on non-communicable diseases in Rarotonga, 3 months, $5,000

Matire Ward

(Right: Matire Ward)


Media Release

A Victoria University of Wellington researcher hopes to improve the success of a fertility treatment that’s rarely used in New Zealand but may potentially provide a safer alternative to current artificial reproductive technologies (ART).

Matire Ward of Te Matarahurahu hapū and Te Kotahitanga Marae in Kaikohe has just been granted a Māori Health Research PhD Scholarship, valued at $113,791, in the Health Research Council of New Zealand’s 2019 Career Development Awards. She will be working under the supervision of Dr Janet Pitman, who focuses on factors that make a good egg.

Ward aims to improve the process of in vitro maturation (IVM), in which eggs are retrieved while still at an immature stage and brought to maturity in the laboratory (in vitro). The process differs from conventional in vitro fertilisation (IVF) which utilises medications to bring a patient’s eggs to maturity before they are removed from the ovary.

Ward claims that IVM is safer than conventional IVF as the treatment doesn’t rely on ovarian stimulation which may result in ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (where ovaries become swollen and painful). However, the use of IVM in fertility clinics remains controversial due to the reduced quality of embryos derived from in vitro matured eggs. For this reason, the practice is still rare in New Zealand, with the first baby only conceived in 2013.

"The main issue is that current IVM methods produce lower-quality embryos. We're taking an immature egg from its natural environment and putting it in this foreign environment in the lab," says Ward.

The secret to improving the treatment’s success could be in mimicking, within a Petri dish, the natural physical environment of ovarian follicles in which eggs would normally mature, she says.

As a follicle matures, an area within it fills with fluid, says Ward. The nutrients, including glucose, carbohydrates, hormones, and growth factors present in this fluid are transferred to the egg by its surrounding support cells. This transfer is critical for optimal egg development and maturation.

When cells are cultured in a dish in the lab, these nutrients are provided at concentrations very different to what is found in follicular fluid.

Using cow’s eggs for her investigations, Ward will prepare and test nutrients at concentrations similar to that of follicular fluid. She will then investigate the key molecular and metabolic pathways that are altered when immature eggs are exposed to these nutrients, in order to develop an improved IVM system that produces high-quality embryos.

Ward says refining this therapy may give another treatment option to couples concerned about, or at risk of, hyperstimulation syndrome. 

She also aims to have conversations with Māori about the use of ART and how her research might mitigate commonly-held concerns about fertility treatments. “While Māori opinion on these types of therapies is conservative, it’s of upmost importance to all Māori people that their whakapapa is continued in a way that regards tikanga,” she adds. 

Ward is the first in her family to undertake tertiary education, but says she is quite used to being surrounded by science. "My mum is a science technician and throughout my childhood, I would often accompany her to the laboratory.” 

She says this scholarship will be a foot in the door to get into postdoctoral research involving assisted reproductive technologies in women. “I hope to continue researching in fertility clinics worldwide to expand my research capabilities and then come home to establish myself as a leading reproductive health researcher joining the few Māori women in this research field.” 

Matire Ward is one of 19 researchers to receive a 2019 HRC Māori Health Research Career Development Award. 

Mr Stacey Pene, the HRC’s senior manager of Māori Health Research Investment, says these Awards are key to building capacity and capability within the Māori research workforce. 

“Māori researchers are tackling complex scientific questions and public health issues that will improve Māori health and wellbeing, and benefit New Zealand as a whole. We’re incredibly proud to support researchers who are making a significant contribution to knowledge and a genuine difference to their communities,” he says.

See below for the full list of recipients, and click here for lay summaries.


Māori Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship 

  • Dr Megan Leask, University of Otago (General Fellowship)
    • Reducing the burden of Metabolic disease in Māori, 24 months, $284,599

Māori Health Research PhD Scholarship

  • Mrs Sonia Hawkins, The University of Auckland
    • Racial and ethnic bias among registered nurses, 36 months, $128,899
  • Mrs Marie Jardine, The University of Auckland
    • Deglutition (Swallowing) in advanced age, 24 months, $75,196
  • Ms Ngahuia Mita, University of Otago
    • Tairāwhiti waka, Tairāwhiti tangata – Examining Tairāwhiti voyaging philosophies, 36 months, $141,364
  • Ms Emerald Muriwai, The University of Auckland
    • Nga kaiwhakaako, whakapakari tinana me te hauora hinengaro, 36 months, $107,000
  • Ms Marnie Reinfelds, The University of Auckland
    • Ka Ora – Exploring the Healing Potential of Birth, 36 months, $128,899
  • Miss Matire Ward, Victoria University of Wellington
    • The impact of micro-environment composition on oocyte developmental competency, 36 months, $113,791

Māori Health Research Masters Scholarship

  • Mrs Nicola Canter-Burgoyne, Massey University
    • Māori experience of using CPAP treatment for OSA, 24 months, $26,600
  • Miss Abigail Johnson, University of Otago
    • Physiological changes to cerebellar Purkinje neurons in Parkinsonian rats, 12 months, $30,253
  • Ms TeWhaawhai Taki, The University of Auckland
    • Te Tino Rangatiratanga o te Mate Ikura Roro, 24 months, $25,190

Māori Health Research Development Grant

  • Dr Isaac Warbrick, The University of Auckland
    • Te Maramataka – Improving oranga through environmental matauranga, 6 months, $10,000

Māori Health Research Summer Studentship

  • Miss Manurereau Te Maunga-A-Rongo Allen, University of Otago
    • Tane Māori access to and perceptions of primary care, 10 weeks, $5000
  • Mr Zaine Akuhata-Huntington, University of Otago
    • Māori rangatahi suicide – informant perspectives on determinants and solutions, 10 weeks, $5000
  • Te Aomarama Anderson, Te Puawai Tapu Trust
    • Rights-based approaches to Māori health: A Kaupapa Māori review, 10 weeks, $5000
  • Ms Ellie Baxter, University of Otago
    • Qualitative analysis of Māori patients' primary health care experiences, 10 weeks, $5000
  • Miss Kathryn Hippolite, University of Otago
    • Exploring Māori health provider workers’ perspectives of medication challenges, 10 weeks, $5000
  • Miss Rebekah Laurence, Te Puawai Tapu Trust
    • Māori women and abortion: A Kaupapa Maori review, 10 weeks, $5000
  • Miss Esther Pinfold, University of Otago
    • Pharmacokinetics of Benzathine Penicillin G in children and young people in NZ, 10 weeks, $5000
  • Ms Maia Tapsell, University of Otago
    • An environmental scan of Indigenous oral health providers, 10 weeks, $5000 

Cathy Dewes: We have a right to be Māori in our own land

Published to E-Tangata by Dale Husband | Nov 25, 2018

There are battlers for the Māori language in many corners of the country — but maybe none more persistent or productive than Cathy Moana Dewes.

Since 1985, when she set up Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ruamata, a few miles out of Rotorua, Cathy has been, among other things, the principal of a school that has produced generations of speakers and achievers.

She has seen her work as not just about the survival of the language but “the survival of the Māori people, culture, values and customs transmitted through the language.”

For her, it’s been a battle to “reclaim the language of the Māori soul”.

 Her talents and energy were recognised early on when she was head girl at Wellington Girls’ College, and the winner there of an award for all round excellence. There have been other honours since then, including an honorary doctorate from Waikato University and being made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to Māori.

Here she is with Dale, looking back on the path she’s been travelling.


Kia ora, Cathy. You’ve been making a big impact in Māori education for many years now, but I suppose it’s not at all surprising that teaching is the path you’ve taken given that both your parents, Koro and Kura, were teachers — your dad from Ngāti Porou and your mum from Te Arawa.

Yes, I’m the product of a marriage between Koro Te Kapunga Matemoana Dewes, who’s Ngāti Porou, and Parekura Thelma Raureti, from Te Arawa. On my Ngāti Porou side, I  have strong relationships with the Korohina and Rangihuna whānau from Te Araroa.

My Ngāti Porou ancestors were involved in all kinds of struggle, for land and for mana wāhine rights. The struggle for land then became a struggle for language and culture, which my dad picked up — and that has greatly influenced the direction I’ve chosen for my life.

Koro and Kura Dewes, from their Ardmore Teachers’ College days.

Mum is a descendant of Raureti Mokonuiarangi, who was a leader for Ngāti Rangitihi, especially in health, mana, mātauranga Māori and land rights in Te Arawa. He was a Māori Land Court interpreter, highly literate in both Māori and English. His wife, Te Aoerere, was from Mokoia Island.

It was Te Aoerere’s people who decreed that the children of Mokoia must attend school five days a week, so they dismantled and rebuilt a house on the mainland in order that the children were indeed able to do that.

I have very strong family associations with both these whakapapa on my Ngāti Porou and Te Arawa sides. And, through these links, I’ve learned my rights and my responsibilities for my people.

I also have a Pākehā side. My mother’s mother is of Welsh, Irish, Scottish and English descent. And, of course, my Dewes ancestor is of English descent. That Pākehā mix, I think, has contributed to my understanding of what I see as basic human rights and values.

People, no matter what their descent or ethnic origin, have a right to live their lives with respect, with dignity, and to be true to the culture to which they belong. I’ve chosen the Māori culture, as opposed to my Pākehā heritage, to be the dominant, identifying factor in my life. And the English and European mix in my bloodlines has assisted in affirming and confirming that commitment to my Māori language and culture.

And you’re right, teaching is in my blood, it’s strongly imprinted in my genes. Dad taught at Ruatoki, Tikitiki, St Stephen’s, Auckland University, and Victoria. Mum taught at various primary schools during her career, including Tikitiki, Bombay, Mt Roskill, Karori Normal, and Rerekohu.

The Dewes family in 1972. From left: Cathy with Te Kapunga, Kura, Koro, and brothers Whai and Campbell.

You’re a wonderful advocate for our reo. How did that come about?

As a pre-schooler, I was exposed to te reo in the community. The Māori language was everywhere in Rangitukia and Tikitiki, where my parents were teaching. It wasn’t in my home between Mum and Dad, but it was everywhere else. Often there were family and friends in our home and Dad would be speaking Māori with them.

He coached rugby and there was lots of interaction with Māori people. So I got to hear the reo and acquire some of the language, even though it wasn’t consciously taught or spoken at home.

In my early years, I spent some time in Matatā as well, where there was no reo Māori in my immediate environment. Then we moved to Bombay. Dad was a teacher at Tipene (St Stephen’s) and Mum taught at Bombay Primary, where I went to school.

That was a total Pākehā model of education. I didn’t even consider that Bombay might’ve had a Māori name before they named it Bombay. It never occurred to me that there was a Māori history and that Māori people might’ve been part of that landscape sometime in the past. So I got to experience first-hand the results of colonial imposition of the white man’s standards.

Our home environment at St Stephen’s did include some Māori interaction with other teachers. Like Ra and Tangi Ihaka, Scotty and Betty McPherson, George and Pare Marsden. But it wasn’t a major factor for me during the three years we lived there.

It wasn’t until Dad landed a job at Victoria University that I began to embrace te reo Māori. There, I’d hear him talking and joking with his mates, having down-time together. And there were formal occasions, too, like with the graduates’ association. That’s when I came to hear the issues that were, and still are, facing Māori. At that time, the big issue was establishing a chair of Māori language at Victoria University.

Koro, Cathy, Whai in the back. Te Kapunga, Kura, and Campbell in the front row.

By then, you must’ve been at high school.

Yes, I was. And, as a seventh former at Wellington Girls’ College, I had plenty of free study time. I was doing lots of languages — French, German, Italian and Latin as well as English. And I was doing Indonesian after school just out of interest.

But Māori wasn’t being taught. So I went to the principal and asked her if I could study Māori through the Correspondence School. I said I’d use my free time to do that. However, she said “no”.

And that had me feeling a mixture of frustration, perhaps rage, and indignation that this old Pākehā woman would have so much power over me.

When I went to Victoria University, I became very active politically in the struggle that Dad had already started. That was to make a space for Māori language within the university environment. And I began learning Māori with Dad as my lecturer.

Then I and my fellow students decided that, as part of the struggle to make a space for te reo Māori within the university, and in this world, we needed to become fluent speakers of Māori. And the only way we’d be able to do that was to speak Māori to one another.

We set up a sort of club and called ourselves Te Reo Māori Society. One aspect of our constitution was to politicise te reo Māori, and the other was to get together every week and practise speaking Māori to improve our conversational Māori.

At the same time, we were learning formally in classes conducted by Dad. I’m really grateful for the intelligence my father applied to his teaching methodology. He impressed upon me the importance of learning by listening. That’s largely, he said, how we acquire the language, given that 80 percent of what we learn is acquired. It’s caught rather than taught.

He also exposed us to some great exponents of te reo Māori and some great minds from within the Māori world. Great thinkers like Māori Marsden, Arnold Reedy, Te Ouenuku Rene, Eruera and Amiria Stirling, and Pine Taiapa. He pulled them in so we could hear both the language and the knowledge from these experts, these carriers of the treasures of the people. And we got to sit at their feet and hear their talk.

Have you been back to Vic since you graduated?

As a matter of fact, last year I was asked to go back to Victoria University on Māori Language Day and tell the students about my reo journey. I told them that one of my favourite songs during that time was Nina Simone’s To be Young, Gifted and Black.

The words of that song are just so true. And the one line I really, really like, and talk about a lot within the Aho Matua schooling model, is this: “When you’re young, gifted and black, your soul’s intact”.

That puts the focus on spiritual development, cultivating our Māori language and identity, creating a space for soul to be alive and well in our society.

One thing I’ve noted and admire about you, Cathy, is that you stand your ground — whether that’s as a schoolgirl at Wellington College, or with Te Reo Society, fronting up to parliament, or speaking on the marae. Were you something of a radical in your youth?

Yes. And I still am. Recently, I’ve been cleaning up files and what-not, and found papers eaten by silverfish and mildewed because they got wet. And I’ve found letters, which I’d totally forgotten about, between me and Hana Te Hemara, leading up to the presentation, in 1972, of the Māori Language petition, where she was telling me what she was doing in Auckland and suggesting what we might do in Wellington.

I actually didn’t attend the presentation on the steps of Parliament Buildings because I had a six-week-old baby and I didn’t want to take him out in the cold because I didn’t know how long it was going to take. So he and I and my younger brother Campbell stayed at the Ngāti Poneke hall and prepared lunch for the group when they finished the presentation.

After that, of course, there were the submissions to prepare for Māori Language Day, Māori Language Week, and broadcasting. I’ve got copies of correspondence between Te Huinga Rangatahi, Te Reo Māori Society, the Māori Affairs Department, and so on.

Hekia Parata was our Huinga Rangatahi chair and she led us, in a special delegation, to Kara Puketapu, who was the Secretary for Māori Affairs. And we said: “Look. We found a clause in the Māori Affairs Act which gives you authority to actively promote te reo Māori. Here it is.” And we showed him the clause.

It wasn’t long after that, that kōhanga reo was born. I’m not saying that we were the ones who showed him the way. There were probably lots of people telling him the same thing. But we were there, stirring it up, stimulating the conversation, and saying: “Yes, we have a right to our language. And here’s how we want you to do it.”

Then you were part of the action that led to reo Māori getting its foot, or its toe anyway, into television.

Yes, I vividly recall meetings with various people where we were working out a strategy to get five minutes of daily news in Māori on prime-time viewing. This eventually became Te Karere. I remember meeting with an expert from the BBC who advised us that, if we were going to focus on Māori within broadcasting, we needed to train the Māori who were going to do it.

So we advocated and won a training programme for producers and directors. Robert Pouwhare, Lee Tamahori, and Brian McDonald were part of the first intake who went on to become producers and directors.

But there were untold submissions. Honestly, Dale, too many submissions. I had submissions coming out of my eyeballs. Hundreds of thousands of words written to persuade the powers that be, the decision-makers, that we have a right to our language within our society.

So I’ve been in the struggle for 50 years. It started when I was 17. Someone said to me: “You should write your biography.” But I don’t want to do that. I don’t have the time. Why should I tell my story? What we need to do is concentrate on winning the war.

Well, there is a story to be told. A chain of significant events — the civil rights movement, the struggle for Māori identity, the Land March, the challenge for broadcasting, setting up the kōhanga reo and kura. And they’ve needed champions such as your dad. Koro was a champion and you’ve followed in his footsteps. So you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about attention being on you. Or about people wanting you to write a book.

Well, anyway, when the suggestion came that I should write my story, I thought: “Nah”. Then, if I was going to write something about myself, I began wondering what I’d call it.

And the title that came to mind was “What the F***?

But I’m not sure the written word would convey the spirit of that question. It’s just that it’s 50 years on in the battle for the reo, and we’re pretty much still in the same hole. And WTF captures the depth of my frustration.

Cathy (centre, back), her children, brothers, and other whānau, on the steps of Parliament Buildings. Youngest son Morehu is holding a photo of his father Rawiri, eldest daughter Pirihita is holding a photo of Koro Dewes, and cousin Thomas Rangihuna is holding the now famous “Hana’s petition to Parliament” photo with Te Ouenuku Rene leading the way.

We’re making progress, though, aren’t we, Cathy? It’s true that there’s a long way to go, but there’ve been significant changes during your working life. Now let’s talk about Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ruamata. Just past the Rotorua Airport. A school that you set up and have led and guided for over 30 years. I’m sure you’ve had great satisfaction from that. It’s been a wonderful achievement.

Yes, it has been satisfying. In my Ruamata community, we now have four generations of Māori speakers who started with nothing. With no reo. And that success is something we can hold up for the world to see. But we should recognise that a key player in the success has been the Ataarangi teaching method. The Ataarangi movement is greatly undervalued but it can create communities of Māori speakers.

We need to keep supporting and resourcing Ataarangi because it’s a tool that can help all of us. You and I can go to university and learn Māori there. And that’s fine for us. But the majority of our population don’t go to university. We don’t like school.

Whereas Ataarangi can take the language to all our people, including the academics, lawyers, corporate staff, and the teachers. It can teach the language to anyone, including Pākehā. It’s an essential tool in learning the language. And it’s greatly undervalued.

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of our Māori kids are at kura kaupapa. Even so, the kura are very important, especially for their leadership role. But I imagine there are challenges for these schools.

You may not be aware, Dale, but a couple of years ago when National was in power and had Hekia Parata was the Minister of Education, she turned off the funding for our national organisation, Te Rūnanga Nui. That’s because, as a movement, we were refusing to send in assessment data. At that time, many of my Aho Matua whānau wanted all-out war and I had to use all my persuasive power to pull us back. To hold our ranks!

We’ve been saying since 1989 — when Tuki Nepe, Pita Sharples, Graham Smith, Rahera Shortland, Tony Waho, Katerina Mataira, and I debated and wrote the working party report on Kura Kaupapa Māori — that we need our own curriculum and assessment practices and processes. We know that to be the truth. We want by Māori for Māori. We are a tino rangatiratanga model of education. We have a Treaty and a basic human right to our unique schooling type.

So we stood our ground and have been trying to persuade the government that they need to resource us. We have our own experts, and we can debate, research, and design our own assessment processes and everything else that a Māori education which derives from mātauranga Māori would entail.

But it’s been a struggle for years. Hopefully, this new government is going to support our case and acknowledge that our Te Aho Matua curriculum should be recognised as a bona fide curriculum of Aotearoa.

We had considered suing the previous minister, but we dropped that idea and instead we pitched our sights on the 2017 election and the Labour Party promise to dump national standards. We were very happy when they won the election. And now we’re awaiting a significant change which ought to accommodate our very unique approach to assessment.

Let’s turn now to another issue where you’ve been active and forthright. That’s the role of wāhine in politics, including tribal politics. I assume that it’s inevitable that there’ll be more and more change and that the day is coming when there’ll be a thumbs-up all around for women to be speaking on the marae?

Yes. There will be a thumbs-up one day. But what it requires is for the women to say: “No More. We’re not taking this from you guys any more. I have a right to speak on my marae.”

The men tell us women here in Te Arawa that they’re concerned for our health and wellbeing and our exposure to mākutu, if we stand on the marae. But we need to assure the women that we’ve got ways to protect ourselves if there’s a real threat that the men are going to point the bone at us.

When that threat was made to me, when I was standing for the Arawa trust board, I was very quickly on the phone to my dad to ask what I should do. He gave me an appropriate karakia. I also rang Katerina Mataira and she gave me a daily ritual to protect myself and my family.

Having an ure shouldn’t be a factor in entitling people to stand on the marae. And we know that, in Ngāti Porou, in Kahungunu, and in the north, women are able to speak on the marae. But women need to come forward and do that. And then Te Arawa and Tūhoe and others will see the examples and follow suit. But it may be that it won’t be until my daughters’ generation that we make the change.

Cathy and Rawiri Rangitauira with their six children. Front row, from left: Tenga, Pirihita, Parekura. Back: Te Kapunga, Kanapu, Morehu.

Meanwhile, what personal goals do you have, Cathy? What have you set for yourself in the years ahead?

When Rawiri, my husband, died four years ago, I thought: “Oh. I can go now, too. I’ve done enough. I’ve completed my work. I’ve children who all speak Māori — and are marrying people who’re either speaking or learning Māori. I have 13 of my 14 grandchildren who are all in the kaupapa, either in kōhanga or kura Aho Matua.  And I’m positive the kura kaupapa movement is going to continue to grow.”

So I was ready to go. But then I was persuaded that I needed to think about my children and grandchildren before I moved across to the other side. So I thought I’d give them another 21 years, and then I’ll go. My challenge now is just to continue to support the growth of kura Aho Matua and keep promoting the value of Ataarangi. That’s how we’ll get the quantity and the quality of Māori speakers who are Māori in every way.

And by the way, Dale, my fourteenth moko is taking Māori as an NCEA Level 1 subject this year. That’s what Hana Te Hemara’s petition was all about. Offering Māori as an optional subject in all high schools where Māori were a significant proportion of the school roll.

We have what we call Poutiria Te Reo Mauriora, which is a vision of kōhanga, kura, wharekura and wānanga — all part of one community, with one governing body.

That’s a major project that we’re now working on. Our goal is that all Māori children should have access to their language and be able to live as Māori within Aotearoa. We have a right to be Māori in Aotearoa. That’s the ultimate goal. And, of course, there are short-term goals and political processes in order to achieve that.

We have a right to be Māori in our own land.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.


© E-Tangata, 2018

Setting NZ's health research priorities - consultation underway

Consultation is now underway into New Zealand's first set of health research priorities. This is an opportunity for all New Zealanders to have their say on the direction and focus of health research for the next 10 years.
Your feedback is being sought through an online survey which is open until 12 October 2018. Public meetings are also being planned with people from Māori, Pacific and disabled communities in:

  • Christchurch on 1 and 2 October
  • Auckland on 4 October
  • Dunedin on 8 and 9 October
  • Wellington on 9 and 10 October

Please contact Dr Alexandra Boyle at to register your interest in attending. If the cost of travel to attend a meeting is a concern, do let us know. 
The consultation process is aimed at being as inclusive as possible. We are interested in hearing from health researchers, community organisations, NGOs, consumers, clinicians and allied health professionals, research funders and other government agencies.
For background information about the consultation and the priority-setting process, head to the HRC's consultation page.

Te Rangawairua ō Paratene Ngata Research Centre

The name of the research centre has been gifted to Ngāti Porou Hauora by the whānau of the late Dr Paratene Ngata. The name honours his vision for Ngāti Porou Hauora to become a “tikanga and research-based centre of excellence for Hauora Māori”.

In English, Te Rangawairua ō Paratene means ‘The Inspiration of Paratene Ngata’.

The centre will provide a basis for building on the research initiatives and relationships which Dr Paratene inspired Ngāti Porou Hauora, our communities and a wide range of university researchers to become involved in over the last 15 years or so. Most recently this includes working with the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Bio-discovery, an expanded collaborative network of scientists, health researchers and providers.

The centre will be a catalyst for growing sustainable research partnerships that enhance our work with local communities and scientists from a range of disciplines, to generate new knowledge and better health outcomes that empower our people to live well and live longer. Its activities will offer regular opportunities for our communities (including schools and health professionals) and scientists to share knowledge and co-define priorities, and for Ngāti Porou and other Māori students, practitioners and researchers to develop skills in research of relevance to Māori and rural health.


Dr Paratene Ngata

Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Ira, Hauiti

‘Dr Pat’ as he was affectionately known on the East Coast, was famous for his uncompromising belief that Māori should determine our own solutions, especially in relation to health. From the day he graduated, he was at the forefront of public health and Māori health advocacy, and as his career progressed so did his incredible leadership.

Dr Paratene and his wife Ngaroma lived in Tolaga Bay where he was a GP at Uawa for more than 13 years. In 2006 Dr Paratene initiated the relationship between Ngāti Porou Hauora, our communities and University of Otago's genetic scientists, Prof Tony Merriman and recent PhD graduate Dr Jade Hollis-Moffatt (Ngāti Porou), to improve our understanding, treatment and prevention of gout and related metabolic conditions. Regular hui and wānanga on the Coast was an integral component of this research from the outset, as was the involvement of rangatahi to inspire the next generation of young Ngāti Porou health professionals and scientists. In partnership with Tolaga Bay Area School, Hauiti Marae and the scientists, Dr Paratene also initiated the first of what has now become the University of Otago’s nationwide Science Wānanga Programme with schools and marae.

This relationship has continued to develop over the last 12 years into the ongoing 'Gout and Related Metabolic Conditions: Genetics and Environment Research Programme', also involving human nutrition scientist Dr Lisa Te Morenga. And it is now expanding into a research relationship with a national centre for research excellence - the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery.

Paratene was a lifelong friend and mentor to Māori health students and doctors alike. In the 1980s he was asked to inject a Māori element into medical training, mentoring young medical students and encouraging Māori to enter the profession. The University of Otago’s clinical schools in Wellington and Dunedin regarded him as a highly respected leader, great thinker and warm friend. In 1984 Paratene, Eru Pomare and Mason Durie initiated the Hui Whakaōranga, along with George Salmond and Lorna Dyall. The Hui rejected the notion that culture was irrelevant to health. ‘Hauora’ was then established as the relevant brand for Māori health.

Dr Pat was given a Ngāti Porou Achievement Award in 2000 and was named Public Health Champion of the Year the same year. He was a trustee of the New Zealand Institute of Rural Health and served as a director of the Midland Regional Health Authority 1991/95. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws in 2004 by the University of Otago and was a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.

True to style, Dr Pat continued his influence as a change advocate right to the end. He left instructions that, at his tangihanga people wear the white ribbon as a symbol of their enduring commitment to peace and whānau ora.

His inspiration lives on through the many teams he inspired to “keep up the good mahi”, including through “contributions to the kaupapa and research developments within and outside NPH”.

Now is the time to have your say on New Zealand's first set of health research priorities!

The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) would like your help in establishing national health research priorities for government investment in New Zealand, the first of ten actions for implementing the New Zealand Health Research Strategy 2017 – 2027. The Strategy charges the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), and the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) with increasing the impact of government investment in health research.

Consultation has now opened, and your input is being sought on draft Strategic Investment Areas. These will form the overarching 'framework' for the health research priorities. You are also being asked for suggestions for priorities that might sit within this framework. The purpose of this process is to ensure that government funding of health research is better co-ordinated and targeted to address the big issues that New Zealand faces, now and in the future.

If you would like to comment, please click here to access the consultation document, which is necessary reading before making an online submission. The consultation document outlines why national health research priorities are being set, who the priorities are for, how they will be funded, and the process for setting them.

Meetings are also being planned with the Māori, Pacific and disabled communities in early October in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Keep checking the consultation page on the HRC website, or contact Dr Alexandra Boyle at to register your interest.

The consultation period closes at 5pm on Friday, 12 October.  Please forward this invitation to anyone else in your organisation who may wish to participate.

Any feedback that you can give us will be greatly appreciated.

Click here for more details.

Regional Meet on Forum Leaders Priority for an Integrated Region

Originally posted on Pacific Island Forum site

Apia, Samoa (July 9, 2018) - Senior Trade Officials from the region will meet in Samoa this week to discuss approaches for expanding beneficial economic activities and coordinating policies to collectively achieve the common economic and political goals needed to strengthen regional trade integration.

“The Blue Pacific narrative endorsed by Forum Leaders in 2017 provides a transformative frame to guide these discussions,” said Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor.  

"When you start thinking about our region as a large, integrated and valuable Blue Continent, comprising a market of up to eight million or more Pacific consumers and businesses, it opens up a lot of potential. This meeting provides an opportunity for a renewed and reinvigorated approach for regional integration that is owned and beneficial for the people in the region.”

At the request of Leaders, the Secretariat has facilitated the establishment of a Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement Rules of Origin Committee (PICTA ROC) that will meet today to review and propose modifications to the criteria set out in the agreement through which a product can be conferred an ‘originating product’ status and qualify for access into PICTA markets under the Agreement. The committee currently comprises Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

A conversation amongst PICTA Parties will be facilitated thereafter on the afternoon of 10 July for views and a way forward on the decision of the PICTA ROC as well as approaches for further deepening regionalism through the inclusion in PICTA of services (PICTA Trade in Services Protocol) and labor mobility (PICTA Temporary Movement of Natural Persons Protocol). The PICTA Parties currently trading under the agreement are Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Kiribati.

Senior Trade Officials from sixteen Pacific ACP (PACP) member countries will also convene during the PACP Trade Officials Meeting on 10 July 2018 to look at approaches for further strengthening trade and economic relations with the European Union. This will include a discussion regarding Pacific perspectives and priorities for the ACP region’s post-Cotonou negotiating mandate on trade, investment, industrialization and services, including a way forward on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

The Forum Trade Officials Meeting follows on 11 July 2018 and includes for the first time French Polynesia and New Caledonia as new Forum Members. With representatives from the eighteen Forum members anticipated to be in attendance, the full membership will converse on collective actions for deepening intra-Forum trade and economic integration in alignment with the Framework for Pacific Regionalism and the Blue Pacific narrative as well as possible mechanisms and indicators to monitor implementation progress. 

The Meeting will also discuss a way forward on a new Regional Aid for Trade Strategy since its expiration in 2017 and consider progress of the Review of the Pacific Trade & Invest Network (PT&I) Governance Framework.

The regional meetings take place at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, Apia Samoa, and concludes with a PACER Plus Meeting for Signatories on 12 – 13 July 2018

 For more information, please write to:

Great Minds Come Together To Help Set New Zealand's Health Research Priorities

Media Release from HRCNZ

Some of New Zealand’s leading health researchers, innovators, advisors and health delivery experts have been brought together to help establish New Zealand’s first set of national health research priorities.

This independent ‘Development Group’ will assess the input from stakeholders across the health, science and innovation sectors, to help ensure the process of setting priorities is inclusive and serves the needs of New Zealand’s diverse population and communities.

Until now, New Zealand has never had a unified set of health research priorities at a national level, and therefore not seen the full potential of coordinating its research efforts across the sector.

But since the introduction of the New Zealand Health Research Strategy (20172027), the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) has been working with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Health to ensure health research addresses the needs of all New Zealanders. Key to that success is identifying priorities for government investment to target.

The Steering Group for the Strategy, made up of the three forementioned government organisations and representatives from Callaghan Innovation, Universities NZ and District Health Boards, says the purpose of setting priorities is to gain a shared understanding of where to focus effort and resources, in order to get the greatest benefit and value from New Zealand’s investment in health research.

Over the course of 2018 and 2019, the Development Group will consult widely and develop a broad set of Strategic Investment Areas, which will be announced in early 2019 and are expected to guide investment activity through to 2027. The Group will continue to refine the priorities, working closely with experts to agree shorter-term research objectives, which will be announced by the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation and the Minister of Health at the end of 2019. 

The Group’s members have been selected for their mana, knowledge, expertise in health services or research and different world views and experience, as well as their ability to think strategically for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

The group comprises 13 people, representing a wide range of experience:

·         Fepulea'i Margie Apa

·         Professor Michael Baker

·         Emeritus Professor Richard Bedford

·         Dr Dale Bramley

·         Professor Vicky Cameron

·         Dr Kyle Eggleton

·         Dr James Hutchinson

·         Professor Margaret Hyland

·         Ms Rose Kahaki

·         Mr Philip Patston

·         Professor John Potter

·         Professor Stephen Robertson

·         Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith

The Group will have two Co-Chairs, at least one of whom is Māori.

“This is not just about how the Health Research Council allocates its funding, but how the HRC, Ministry of Health, MBIE and other government agencies will work together to form a better and more integrated health research system” says the HRC’s chief executive, Professor Kath McPherson.

“There is no end of things to do, but the reality is there are limited resources and a need to make some choices,” she says.

“What are the biggest issues that face New Zealanders where research could make a difference? Do we have areas where, in fact, New Zealand could and should lead the world? What sort of skills do we need our researchers and health professionals to have, and to develop, so they can address the problems that are just around the corner?”

Dr Andy Simpson, chief medical officer at the Ministry of Health and member of the Steering Group for the Strategy, says all New Zealanders will be able to contribute to identifying the most important issues for health research to tackle.

“This group will help guide that process and so it is great to have such a range of expertise and experience,” he says.

For more on the process of setting priorities, visit our Consultation page.

Dr Siautu Alefaio

Dr Siautu Alefaio, from Massey University’s School of Psychology, speaks on the research she’s about to embark on, regarding how our Pasifika elderly are cared for in the 21st century.

Posted by Radio 531pi on Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Congratulations to all HRC Funding Recipients 

Originally posted to the Health Research Council New Zealand website here.

The HRC’s director of Research Investments and Contracts, Dr Vernon Choy, says this year’s project proposals once again prove that New Zealand researchers are leading the way in identifying novel solutions to difficult problems.

“The projects we’ve funded this year span across public health, biomedical research, Māori and Pacific health. All of them delve into important health issues, and many pose questions that affect us all in some way – they really do have the potential to improve the lives of all New Zealanders.”

In particular we want to highlight our three Pacific research teams who were successful with their Pacific projects applications:

Dr Siautu Alefaio-Tugia 
Massey University, Auckland
Caring for our Wisdom Bearers: Pacific Matua (Elder) care
36 months

Lay summary

Research in Aotearoa-New Zealand shows the value and importance of Pacific Matua (Elders) in families, churches, and communities. They are not considered separate to one’s family and are the most respected individuals within aiga (family) given their valuable roles as advisors, holders of wisdom and traditional knowledge, protectors of family genealogy and healers of social issues. Caring for Matua within Pacific society is maintained by traditional practices of intergenerational kinship care and multiple systemic living. Migration, new housing, work and living arrangements have created many challenges in maintaining Elder-care. Research remains sparse regarding family, community care and wellbeing of Pacific Matua. However, the Elder population is increasing and numbers are likely to grow rapidly in the next few decades. Drawing on psychology, nursing and social work, a Pacific health-collective approach explores Eldercare practices of Pacific families to understand the health and wellbeing implications borne by carers.

Associate Professor Faafetai Sopoaga 
University of Otago, Dunedin
Mental health and wellbeing of Pacific youth in higher education
36 months

Lay summary

The mental health of Pacific young people in New Zealand is a concern. Mental health is included in the New Zealand Health Research Strategy as an area of priority. Thereis no information to our knowledge about the mental health and wellbeing of Pacific students in tertiary institutions. It is estimated that there are at least 30,000 Pacific students in tertiary institutions. This research seeks to obtain information about the mental health and wellbeing of Pacific tertiary students in their first three years at university. We are seeking to determine the risk and protective factors that influence their mental health and well-being. We will explore students’ access to services, their expectations and experiences at University, including barriers to using health or other support services. Furthermore, we wish to determine the role of access to health and other support services on their mental health, well-being and academic progress.

Dr Gerhard Sundborn 
The University of Auckland
How has a 'water only' and 'healthy kai' school policy impacted on child obesity
36 months

Lay summary

This study will assess the effect of a low sugar food and drink policy on a range of important child health and learning outcomes. We will measure BMI z-score, absenteeism, truancy, and student achievement of primary school students from a school that has had ‘water only’ and ‘healthy kai’ policies in place for more than 10 years, and compare these to measurements taken from the two nearest schools with a similar demographic profile but no such nutrition policy. These schools are located in a socioeconomically disadvantaged area of Auckland which is decile 1 ranked. They each have a student population that are comprised of ≥ 80% Pasifika/Māori. A recent study has already shown that this school (that has had ‘water only’ and ‘healthy kai’ policy for 10+ years) has significantly better oral health, with fewer diseased, missing, or filled teeth (DMFT) compared to the eight surrounding schools.

Read more about other funding recipients here.

Know our ocean – An Opinion-Editorial by Meg Taylor, DBE on World Oceans Day

By Meg Taylor, DBE, Secretary General, Pacific Islands Forum and Pacific Ocean Commissioner

Originally posted on Pacific Island Forum site here.

This week we are all encouraged to know our ocean as the world marks World Ocean Day on the 8th June. As Pacific Islanders, we have a strong connection to our oceanic continent. Our totems are largely sea or land animals, and our coastal communities practiced ‘taboo’ over their fishing grounds way before the outside world entered our sphere. We can be proud of our intimate connection with the natural world around us.

However, humanity has not treated our oceans well. They are in great trouble and urgent action is required.

As stewards of the Pacific Ocean, the largest of the planet's ocean systems, we have a great responsibility to take up this challenge – for ourselves and for our children and future generations.

To the children and youth of our Blue Pacific continent, I say know your ocean. It is the source of life for so many of us. Human activity is damaging our marine resources and we must act now.

Garbage in our ocean

Each year, humanity pours its trash into waterways and rivers without a second thought of what happens after they discard their rubbish. Much of this ends up in the ocean, where, for example, more than eight (8) million tonnes of harmful plastic waste ends up annually.

The world’s five ocean systems have been likened to “lungs” for our planet. For our community of ocean states, the Pacific Ocean is a source of both food and income; it has connected us in the past, and continues to do so today. The ripples of our ocean reach the shores of four continents. These connections are essentially pathways through which rubbish end up in our ocean of islands.

Studies affirm that plastic comprise 90 per cent of the visible debris floating in the Pacific Ocean. Invisible pollutants include sewerage, fertilizer runoff, etc. Another pollutant that our ocean of islands have had to deal with is nuclear waste. There are Pacific Islands Forum members, who continue to deal with the legacy of past nuclear testing.

We are ocean

We are inextricably linked because of the Pacific Ocean: our cultural practices and languages have similarities: it was the ocean that facilitated ancestral linkages and it calls on us again today, as individuals and as communities to do all we can to reverse the state it is in now.

The ocean has always been core to Pacific Islands Forum’s deliberations; in fact, the United Nations Law of the Sea was a point of discussion during the historic first meeting of the Forum in 1971. Through the Forum, the Pacific region has a collaborative and integrated ocean management system in place.

The Pacific has two primary ocean policy instruments that Pacific Leaders have endorsed: the Pacific Islands Regional Ocean Policy (2002) and the Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape (2010). The Policy promotes “sustainable development, management and conservation of marine and coastal resources in the Pacific region” through five guiding principles based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Framework, amongst other things, established of the role of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner.

Our Leaders have so far played a significant leadership role in advancing a global Ocean policy; we have negotiated a global common cause on oceans that has resulted in global best practice, as reflected in the SAMOA Pathway, as well as a standalone Sustainable Development Goal on Oceans (SDG14).

As agencies of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP), we continue to facilitate the Pacific development agenda. I acknowledge our development partners who continue to support the implementation of development aspirations that will make a difference to all Pacific peoples.

Healthier ocean pledge

Make a pledge today for healthier oceans.

We share one ocean, we benefit from it immensely, from food on our tables to our economies as Forum members, and I believe we should feel some sense of responsibility for its well-being. The Ocean is our home and will be key for our children’s and young people’s future.

I appeal specifically to our children and young people: actively pursue a healthier ocean. You can pledge never to use materials that are not recyclable like single-use plastics. A sustainable alternative could be woven baskets for shopping and/or marketing.

Let us work together to preserve it. Support environmental protection and conservation efforts in your communities and countries. Advocate for positive policies and actions.

It may seem like a big responsibility but it is one I encourage you all to step forward and meet. Ripples of change from our shores have made global impact before, and we can do the same for our ocean, and our Blue Pacific identity.

Budget 2018 to improve the lives for Pasifika people

Originally posted as a Press Release to the Beehive website here.


The Coalition Government’s focus on transforming the way we collectively work to improve the lives of New Zealanders by prioritising health, education and housing in Budget 2018 will improve the lives of Pacific families, says Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio.

Ministers Sio, Sepuloni, Salesa and Finance Minister Grant Robertson spoke this morning at a Pacific community meeting in Auckland to outline how Budget 2018 will contribute towards improving the wellbeing of Pacific peoples in New Zealand.

“The significant investments announced for health, housing, education and in reducing child poverty will directly benefit Pacific peoples. These investments are the first steps in our plan to turn around a period of underfunding for these critical public services,” says Aupito William Sio.

“Budget 2018 lays the foundations for the future; Pacific people are the fastest growing and youngest population in New Zealand – combined with Maori, our people will play a key role in shaping the future of New Zealand’s economy.

“The significant investment of new spending in education with $1.6 billion over four years for schools, early childhood education and 1,500 new teachers, along with the Families Package from 1 July, will all benefit Pacific families.

“Our focus on improving access to core health services will also benefit Pacific peoples. The extension of free general practitioner (GP) visits to all under-14 year olds is a significant investment in children. The roll out of lower GP fees for people with Community Services Cards and their children, as well as an expansion in who is eligible for the Card, means that approximately 15,500 more Pacific people will be eligible for very low cost fees for primary health care.

“The Government’s multi-billion dollar investment into building public housing and affordable homes through KiwiBuild will benefit Pacific people and help clear a pathway to increase Pacific home ownership. I will be working with my Ministry to ensure that Pacific people are contributing to the solutions being worked on by the Minister for Housing and Urban Development to fix the housing crisis. A new insulation programme for low-income home-owners will make our homes healthier, making them better environments to raise our children.

“My Ministry is working hard in collaboration with the Pacific Business Trust and the Treasury to define the Pacific Economy, which we will use as a foundation to build upon to achieve greater prosperity and success in the key pillars of health, housing and education.

“The message from our meeting today with the Pacific community highlights that the Coalition Government is committed to improving the wellbeing of Pacific peoples.  Budget 2018 is just the start as we build foundations for our future.

"That's why in November my Ministry will gather our Pacific leaders - men, women and our young people, to finalise a new Pacific Vision, where we identify specific streams of work that will strengthen foundations for achieving vibrant, prosperous and resilient Pacific peoples in the future, including identifying how to recognise the importance of our languages and cultures and passing it onto future generations,” says Aupito William Sio.

A Talanoa About Health

Posted by Pacific Rugby Players here.

Our ancestors came from across the globe to populate the Pacific Island countries including New Zealand. They were great people with excellent navigation skills, and strong physical and mental stamina to survive the long and challenging voyages. Working collectively as peoples of the Pacific has helped us to survive over the years.

We can use similar strengths to fight some of the biggest health problems facing most countries today – chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Being overweight or obese increases our chances of having these diseases.

Fortunately, to a large extent, we can help prevent these diseases in our families and communities. MaiBody, MaiFuture is an initiative that aims to start a dialogue around these issues, providing practical advice from players and access to the best resources to help you on your journey towards better health. Watch some of their stories here  (and below).

Pacific Health Day 2018

We at #WATPO want to send a big thank you to Dr Api Talemaitoga and Executive of the Pacific Chapter of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners for the opportunity to share our research on Pacific family carers' experiences at the Pacific #Health Day on 26 May 2018. We look forward to working with the sector to help improve access and equity for the Pacific Communities we serve!

See the day's programme below.

TEC announce panellists for the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) 2018 

The PBRF encourages and rewards the breadth and diversity of research excellence, and its role in strengthening New Zealand and our tertiary education sector. The Quality Evaluation is held periodically (the last one was held in 2012). The results of the Quality Evaluation distribute 55 percent of the fund totalling $1 billion over the six-year funding period.

Dr Dafydd Davies, the TEC’s Manager for University Investment, says panellists play a crucial role in the Quality Evaluation by assessing the research portfolios of staff from participating tertiary education organisations (TEOs).

“The 13 peer review panels assess the quality of research in specific subject areas and assign a Quality Category to each researcher’s portfolio. For the PBRF 2018 Quality Evaluation, panellists will assess an estimated 8,000 portfolios from 36 TEOs,” he says.

So far, 237 panellists have been confirmed for the PBRF 2018 Quality Evaluation. They come from a range of research backgrounds, and have been selected for their subject knowledge and expertise in assessment.

The panel appointment process for the PBRF 2018 Quality Evaluation occurs in stages. The first stage closed in September 2015 and included the appointment of chairs, deputy chairs, and an initial cohort of panellists. Nominations for the second cohort closed 26 February 2018 and included the appointment of additional panellists.

To ensure an appropriate range of expertise across all panels, additional panel appointments may be made in the coming months.

To learn more:

Health and Pacific Research Panel Members are as follows:

Chair: Professor Kath McPherson (Health Research Council)
Deputy Chair: Professor Merryn Gott (University of Auckland)
Dr Chris Baldi (University of Otago)
Professor David Baxter (University of Otago)
Professor Marie Crowe (University of Otago)
Dr Ofa Dewes (University of Auckland)
Dr Hinemoa Elder (Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi)
Professor Pauline Ford (University of Queensland)
Dr Matire Harwood (University of Auckland)
Professor Keith Hill (Curtin University)
Professor Eleanor Holroyd (Auckland University of Technology)
Professor Annette Huntington (Massey University)
Professor Paula Kersten (University of Brighton)
Professor Marlena Kruger (Massey University)
Associate Professor William Levack (University of Otago)
Professor Rich Masters (University of Waikato)
Professor Paul Mills (University of Queensland)
Professor Paul Moughan (Massey University)
Professor Christopher Peck (Sydney University)
Professor Michael Robb (University of Canterbury)
Professor Janie Sheridan (University of Auckland)
Associate Professor Melody Smith (University of Auckland)


Chair: Professor Airini (Thompson Rivers University)
Deputy Chair: Associate Professor Yvonne Underhill-Sem (University of Auckland)
Dr Melani Anae (University of Auckland)
Dr Karlo Mila (Author)
Dr James Prescott (Unitec Institute of Technology)
Professor Steven Ratuva (University of Canterbury)
Dr Mele Taumoepeau (University of Otago)
Dr El-Shadan Tautolo (Auckland University of Technology)
Professor Kirsten Thompson (Seattle University)
Dr Colin Tukuitonga (Secretariat of the Pacific Community)

Responding to the Pacific Diabetes Epidemic

Eye care in Vanuatu to be boosted by Fred Hollows Foundation, RNZ

To mark its 25th anniversary, the charity is upgrading and expanding the Port Vila National Eye Centre.

Combined with the impending arrival of a Foundation-trained eye doctor, it's hoped the expansion will help increase Vanuatu's eye surgery capacity from 200 to 800 per year.

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week announced it would make a contribution of around $US380,000 to the project.

The ministry's Deputy Secretary of the Pacific and Development Group, Jonathan Kings, said the upgrade would strengthen diabetic eye care in the face of Vanuatu's increasing number of diabetes patients.

"This facility will serve as a training facility and a primary healthcare site with a focus on diabetic complication," he said.

"The Port Vila facility will provide an essential service in the control and management in NCDs [non-communicable diseases] and at the same time continue the work of the Fred Hollows Foundation to build quality eye care systems in the Pacific." 

Reception celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ hosted by Their Excellencies, The Governor-General of New Zealand The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, GNZM, QSO and Patron of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, and Sir David Gascoigne KNZM, CBE. 


In the photo L-R: 

Matafanua Hilda Fa'asalele of the NZ Ministry of Health, Hon Dr Saia Ma'u Piukala, Minister for Health, Kingdom of Tonga, Dr Ofa Dewes, Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery and The University of Auckland's School of Nursing, and Dr Paula Vivili, Director of Public Health for Pacific Community - SPC.

Noa’ia te’ ne gagaj atakoa!

Noa’ia te’ ne gagaj atakoa. Rak’akiof ‘e laloag ne gasao te’ Rotuman Language Week ta. Figalelei ma ‘amis ‘ihua te’ ne aus atakoa se gasao te ma tape’ma se Rotuma Day Celebration e ait te.

Greetings, and welcome to Rotuma Language Week. Please join with us for the Rotuma Day Celebrations this Saturday, 12 May 2018, at the Western Springs Garden Community Hall, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Alalum, Faga Fasala, Kijiana Fasala, Rachel Mario, Samantha Nonu, Stephanie Sokra’a, Nik Naidu (Auckland Rotuman Community Group Inc).

Rotuma Language Week

Congratulations to the Auckland Rotuma Fellowship Group Inc. and their Chairman, Faga Fasala. We are proud of their hard work and achievements and look forward to joining with them in celebrating Rotuma Language Week 6-13 May and Rotuma Day on 12 May.

Members of the Rotuman community in Auckland practice "Taumaka" last week

Rotuman community acts to save a dying language

By Arvind Kumar, 

The Rotuman language is listed on the Unesco's list of endangered languages as "vulnerable".

And now, members of the Rotuman community living in New Zealand have set out to do something to stop the demise of their native language.

Hence, the Rotuman community of New Zealand is excited to announce their first-ever "language week" set to showcase the best of Rotuman culture.

Rotuma is a Fijian dependency, consisting of Rotuma Island and nearby islets, with a population close to 2000. But outside of Rotuma, the population is believed to number more than 50,000.

The island group is home to a large and unique indigenous ethnic group which constitutes a recognisable minority within the population of Fiji, known as "Rotumans".

The week-long celebration of Rotuman culture, May 6-13, is being organised by the Auckland Rotuman Fellowship Group Inc (ARFGI). Activities will be held at the Western Springs Garden Community Hall.

And in another first, they have also created a language chart to help those new to the language, and which will be of particular benefit for the younger generations.

"We took the initiative using our own funds and resources, to move things forward and help save our unique language," chairman Faga Fasala said.

The group hopes that this may also inspire other ethnic groups, including Rotumans, who live in other cities and countries throughout the world, to hold similar events.

"Language is what makes us who we are, and is part of our culture and identity," Fasala said.

"And it is our duty to preserve this invaluable taonga."

The group hopes the week's activities will help bring people together and showcase Rotuman culture.

"We invite all Kiwis to come and join us, and celebrate being Rotuman," Fasala said.

"It has not been easy for our community to keep our language alive in Aoetearoa," Fasala said.

"We pay tribute to our elders and leaders, who for the last 30 years, have continued to celebrate our culture in New Zealand, and for helping keep our customs and traditions relevant."

A separate media event is also being organised as part of the activities, in the hope that this will help introduce the unique Rotuman culture to the wider New Zealand public.

"Each day of the week has been allocated to the different groups within our community," Fasala said.

"With the elders, youth, sports, cultural, music, advocacy and religious leaders hosting their own days, Rotuman people are a separate ethnic group with their own distinct language, culture and identity, and originate from the polynesian Island of Rotuma."

Rotuman is not the only Pacific island language list on Unesco's endangered list: Tokelauan language is "severely endangered", along with Nauru, while Niuean, Tuvaluan, and Norfolk are "definitely endangered". Rarotongan (Cook Islands) is also "vulnerable".

Rotuma consists of the island of Rotuma and its nearby islets, and is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, about 500km north of Fiji, and 500km west of Wallis & Futuna. Rotuma was annexed by the British on May 13, 1881 (Rotuma Day).

Unesco's five levels of language risk:

  • Safe: Widely spoken.
  • Vulnerable: Not spoken by children outside the home (600 languages).
  • Definitely endangered: Children not speaking (646 languages).
  • Severely endangered: Only spoken by oldest generations (527 languages).
  • Critically endangered: Spoken by only a few members of the oldest generation, often semi-speakers (577 languages).

Vinaka Vakalevu

Vinaka Vakalevu from the New Zealand team to our brothers and sisters at the Fiji Nursing Association Symposium 2018 🌺🏥🌴

#FNASymposium2018 in Suva, Fiji

Members of the Unitec Pacific Advisory Committee were at Unitec’s Te Noho Kotahitanga Marae yesterday where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern officially welcomed the announcement to expand the partnership with community and build between 3000 and 4000 affordable homes on land occupied by Unitec New Zealand. The development plan announced by Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyfordwas the first phase of the Government’s Kiwibuild. 🏡💯🏠

L – R: Ofa Dewes, Falaniko Tominiko, Metua Bates, Tevita Funaki (Chair), Elena Timoteo.

Teresia Teaiwa Memorial Scholarship Fund

Associate Professor Teresia Teaiwa passed away in March 2017, leaving an immense legacy at Victoria University. In accordance with her wish, scholarships will be established to support students of Pacific Studies.

Largely organised by the recently formed Pacific Studies Alumni Association, the event featured moving testimony from generations of past and present students.

There were performances and speeches from those who cherish their connections to the Pacific Studies programme and are committed to ensuring opportunities for future generations of Pacific Studies students. 

Dr April Henderson, Acting Director Va'aomanū Pasifika, says Associate Professor Teresia Teaiwa prioritised investing in people.

“She invested extraordinary amounts of time and energy in really knowing people—their stories, their aspirations, their networks and relationships—sometimes appearing to know what they were capable of before they knew it themselves.”

Dr Henderson says that in building and inspiring the Pacific Studies programme, Teresia has created a legacy of pedagogy and content based in knowing and believing in our students and providing them with the opportunities and challenges to realise their incredible capabilities.

“As Teresia herself envisioned, our vast, interconnected 'sea of alumni' will play a key role in future initiatives to raise funds for the Teresia Teaiwa Memorial Scholarships. The success of the launch event exemplifies what comes from such an investment in people.”

“We are off to a thrilling start. All of us—staff, alumni, and students alike—were stunned and humbled that by the close of the launch event the fund had already attracted donations and pledges totalling $109,000, including a generous contribution from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and an astounding bequest of $100,000 from Teresia herself."

Help Teresia realise her dream. Your gift is an investment in the future generations of Pacific Studies students.

To donate click here.

Originally posted by Victoria University of Wellington:

Help us commence our 50th anniversary celebrations with a pōwhiri!

This year is a special one for the Faculty of Medical and Health Science, University of Auckland, as we celebrate our 50th anniversary, which is why we want to commence 2018 with a pōwhiri. 

Open to all FMHS staff and students, the pōwhiri will commemorate where we have come from and what our faculty has grown into - a multidisciplinary faculty with outstanding research and strong links to the community. This is a significant milestone for our faculty and we’d love for you to join us in celebrating it.

The pōwhiri will be followed by celebration cake.

Location: Grafton Atrium
Date: 26 February 2018
Time: 12-1pm

Watch: School leavers' stirring rendition of 'This is Me'

NZ Herald

An inspirational rendition of Golden Globe winning song "This is Me" has been belted out by 400 Kiwi school-leavers ready to take on university.

The students, mostly graduates of south Auckland schools, sang the song from the hit "The Greatest Showman" as part of a UniPrep programme at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) South Campus last week.

The hit song - which is also in line for an Oscar - is performed on the show by Broadway star Keala Settle, who is of Maori descent and who still has family in New Zealand.

This Is Me is from the recent musical release The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Michelle Williams.

The 400 school leavers sang in unison with the aid of conductor Igelese Ete.

Two soloists were also chosen from the group.

The group practiced 'This is Me' for three hours over two days before a final taped performance on Friday.

The Joint Scientific Meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society and Breakthrough Discoveries in Metabolism, Diabetes and Obesity

 Melbourne, 16 - 18 October, 2018

The Joint Scientific Meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS) andBreakthrough Discoveries in Metabolism, Diabetes and Obesity is pleased to announce registrations and abstract submissions are now open!

The meeting will take place at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, from 16th - 18th October 2018. The joint program between ANZOS and  Breakthrough Discoveries in Metabolism, Diabetes and Obesity will be featured in the first 2 days focusing on the latest developments in the Basic Sciences, lead by a host of international and national experts. The Clinical Sciences and Public Health streams of ANZOS will run throughout the 3 day meeting and the usual ANZOS Basic Sciences stream will continue in its own right on the 3rd day.

For more information please click here.

Purposes of Longer Lives: Abstract Submissions Open February 1

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the oldest and largest interdisciplinary scientific organization devoted to the advancement of gerontological research, learning, and practice. Through its Annual Scientific Meeting, GSA offers nearly 4,000 international professionals in the field of aging the opportunity to learn the latest trends and development from industry leaders, build strategic partnerships to address aging challenges, and network with peers.

GSA’s 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting will take place November 14-18, 2018 at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts and will focus on the theme, "The Purposes of Longer Lives" chosen by incoming GSA 2018 President, Dr. David Ekerdt, University of Kansas. Here's a video of Dr. David Ekerdt sharing what the theme means to him.

Call for Abstracts

The Call for Abstracts will open on February 1, 2018 with submissions due on March 15, 2018.

Hear from the experts about the importance and process for submitting an abstract and how best to prepare an abstract for submission. Register now for the webinar, “The Road to Boston: Mapping the Steps for GSA 2018 Abstract Submission.”

The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ

We are delighted to welcome National Eye Health Coordinators (NEHC) to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness VISION 2020 Workshop hosted by The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, a well-respected non-governmental organisation working tirelessly towards a vision of a world where no one is needlessly blind. NEHCs are integral to the development of eye health systems in developing countries (such as those in the Pacific region) and to the advocacy efforts of IAPB, as well as the World Health Organization and its member agencies. The invite-only workshop is being held at the University of Auckland FMHS Grafton Campus from 30 January to 1 February 2018.

Work underway to implement the New Zealand Health Research Strategy

The new year is well underway at the Health Research Council, and a particular focus in coming months is on bringing the principles of the New Zealand Health Research Strategy (NZHRS) to life.

The NZHRS sets out the Government’s vision that by 2027 New Zealand will have a world-leading health research and innovation system that, through excellent research, improves the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

The HRC is working closely with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE) to implement the Strategy, and to develop an inclusive process for setting national priorities for health research investment in New Zealand. The HRC has reviewed a number of national and international approaches for setting priorities and is discussing a preferred approach (incorporating the best features of many of these processes) with MBIE, MoH and others on the Implementation Steering Group before consulting more widely.

The detailed feedback from around New Zealand that was provided during development of the Strategy has been invaluable in guiding the present work we're doing. Over the coming months there will be opportunities to participate in this process as we seek additional input from a broad range of stakeholders in the science, health, and innovation sectors. 

 Health research news and information from the Health Research Council of New Zealand, Issue 01/18 - 23 January 2018

HRC welcomes new Pacific Health committee members

We congratulate Dr Ofa Dewes who has been appointed Chair of the Pacific Health Research Committee after serving on the committee for a year. We're also grateful for the input of Dr Palatasa Havea, who decided to step down as Chair but will remain as a member of the committee until his six-year term ends in December this year. 

Ofa Dewes is an Affiliate Investigator of the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery, and Research Fellow at the School of Nursing, University of Auckland. Among her many projects, she is currently leading research into older Pacific people's experiences in palliative care, as well as researching the differences in fructose absorption among Pacific adolescents.

We also welcome Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu as a new member to the committee. She is Associate Dean (Pacific) of the University of Otago, Wellington, and Senior Lecturer of the university's Department of Pathology & Molecular Medicine. Her research interests include immunology, acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease, immunogenetics, cancer and pharmacology.

Ms Marisa Maepu, Manager of the Ministry of Health's Pacific health policy team, is also joining the committee, replacing Hilda Fa’asalele. Marisa Maepu has led the development of various government strategies and policy advice to ministers, and has vast experience working with Pacific communities.

Finally, we welcome our new Pacific representative for the Public Health Committee, Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath. She is the Acting co-Head of School and Head of Pacific Studies, Te Wānanga o Waipapa, School of Māori Studies and Pacific Studies, University of Auckland. She is currently leading research projects into Pacific suicide prevention and postvention, and has research interests in youth development, Pacific health and wellbeing, and inequities in health.

 Health research news and information from the Health Research Council of New Zealand, Issue 01/18 - 23 January 2018

8th Nursing Symposium on Cancer Care

Contemporary future symphony of cancer care through collaboration, innovation, and transformation 

The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 24-25 May

According to the World Health Organisation, cancer is a leading cause of death globally, accounting for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. In other words, nearly one in six deaths is due to cancer. The most common causes of cancer death are cancers of lung, liver, colorectal, stomach and breast. In 2012, there were approximately 14 million new cancer cases worldwide, and the number is expected to rise by about 70% in two decades. The economic impact of cancer is significant and is increasing.

Foreseeing an escalating prevalence of cancer locally and globally, the Nethersole School of Nursing of the Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong organised the 1st Nursing Symposium on Cancer Care in 1999. Since then, the conference has become an important nursing event contributing substantially to the promotion of quality cancer care in Hong Kong and beyond.

The theme of the conference this year is ‘Composing future symphony of cancer care through collaboration, innovation, and transformation’. By pooling the efforts of nursing and healthcare professionals, policy makers, academics and researchers from around the world, this conference aims to examine strategies and initiatives to achieve collaboration, innovation and transformational development in cancer care in local and global contexts.

Keynote and plenary speakers invited to the conference are internationally renowned experts in the healthcare field. Their experiences and insights will stimulate dynamic discussions on innovative strategies and collaborative approaches for the delivery and promotion of cancer care. There are also concurrent sessions for delegates to dialogue on a wide range of theme-related topics, facilitating transformational development of cancer care for the health and well-being of all mankind.

For more information, click here!

Pacific Health Governance: Knowledge Translation for SDG Implementation

by University of Queensland, February 15-16th, 2018


Hosted by UQ’s School of Public Health, in collaboration with UQ International Development, Abt Associates, TNC Pacific Consulting and the Centre for Policy Futures, the workshop aims to facilitate a meeting of scholars and practitioners from Australia and the Pacific region who work on issues related to health, governance and development. The workshop will explore the health and development of the region within the context of the unfolding UN Sustainable Development agenda. The event is designed to map research needs for the region in terms of four major themes, with the objective to facilitate the construction of research agendas for policy by means of co-creation activities. The workshop will be the first in a series of events designed to broker networks and partnerships for research and innovation for health in the region.

Workshop organisers and sponsors have set out to organise an event that is deliberately different from standard conferences. An emphasis has been placed on seeking funding for travel scholarships to bring Pacific voices, scholars and practitioners to the event in order to construct research agendas that are Pacific-driven, respond to needs and create agendas for joint research and action. Keynote speakers, panellists and chairs will include leading scholars and practitioners in Pacific affairs and global health governance, with space for dialogue and an opportunity for researchers, funders and practitioners from the region to discuss research needs and collaboration opportunities.

For more information, please click here.

Pacific Climate Change Conference

Climate change is already changing the nature of the weather and the seasonal climate, and raising sea levels across the globe. Left unchecked, climate change presents huge risks for food security, water availability, and habitability. It is the number one problem facing humanity.

How climate change affects the oceans, and the life within the oceans, is central to the future of the planet. Holding the vast majority of the heat in the climate system, and home to a vast array of biodiversity, the global oceans hold the key to the course of climate change for centuries to come.

Nowhere is climate change, and ocean change, a more urgent issue than across the Pacific, home to many low-lying island nations and sensitive to large swings in climate from year to year. The second Pacific Climate Change Conference hosted by  Victoria University of Wellington and SPREP will bring together a broad range of voices on climate change, from the science to the impacts to the policy and public implications. As with the first Conference in 2016, we will include a broad range of sectors, including the arts, science communities, Pacific communities and activists, business sector, faith communities, NGOs, health, and members of the public, to provide a rich exchange of diverse ideas on how to tackle this biggest of problems.

One component of the Conference will be a session devoted to mitigation action under the Paris Agreement on climate change. Representatives of nations across the Pacific will be asked to report on steps being taken at the national level to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow the rate of climate change.

The Pacific Climate Change Conference will start in the morning of Wednesday 21 February and will run until the afternoon of Friday 23 February. This will give you the opportunity to continue your experience in Wellington at the free New Zealand Festival event "Kupe: Festival Opening Night", which will start at 7 pm on the Taranaki Wharf, Wellington.

For more information click here!

STEM Professionals Leadership Workshop

by Liquid Learning in Melbourne- 24-25th January, Brisbane 30-31st January, Sydney 6-7th February and 24-25th May


STEM professionals often climb the leadership ladder with their
technical abilities, though few are equipped with the skills for
successful leadership. To maximise performance in the laboratory,
STEM professionals must employ a number of skills including
strong communication, emotional intelligence and authenticity.
Continuous funding cuts often cause tension and disengagement
in the workplace. As a leader, it is imperative to motivate and
engage your team in challenging circumstances while addressing
conflict simultaneously. To achieve an inspired and ambitious
team, STEM leaders must create a work environment conducive
to innovation and creativity. Through various communication
avenues and tactical relationship building, leaders can drive
productivity and positive change, creating a strong support
network for their team.
This workshop explores the leadership skills demanded of
STEM professionals. Attendees will learn how to increase team
performance and fast-track research outcomes in a real-time
decision-making environment.

For more information click here!

Tertiary Education Commission Seeking Panel Members Nominations

Don't miss this opportunity offered by TECNZ to serve on a panel for the Performance-Based Research Fund 2018 Quality Evaluation. You can nominate someone until 26 February 2018! For more information, view the flyer below or click here!

Oceanic Memory: Islands, Ecologies, Peoples Conference

30 November – 2 December, 2017
Christchurch, New Zealand

Hosted by: MacMillan Brown Centre, University of Canterbury, Christchurch

Memories are complex, selective, and evolve over time. Some memories are hegemonic and powerful and some are subordinate and marginalized. This conference seeks to address the complex politics of cultural memory in the Pacific from a variety of critical perspectives. Check-out our abstract below, which will be presenting the 30 November.

Please join us for this conference, where we will be launching our digital stories! For a sneak-peak, check out our YouTube channel: 

Modernity, Memory and the Pacific

Caring to the beat – our digital lali, by Ofa Dewes and Kylah Williams

The tradition of storytelling in the Pacific has been around since the first Pacific peoples. Storytelling is a way to preserve history, and with that, memory. Memories are beautiful because in a sense, they keep a person's spirit and culture alive, allowing that presence of the senses to pass back and forward in time, throughout generations.

As technology has evolved over the years, the ability to preserve these memories through sound, photographs, videos, and digital stories has as well. We use the media of digital stories to record the memories of loved ones lost physically in and to the Pacific community but remembered in spirit, to ensure the survival of the cultural custom of storytelling. For most individuals, growing old is an accomplishment, that one has lived a long life, and so it is necessary to address current issues among our older Pacific people.

As governments have called for programmes and policies that shift palliative care into the community, and in an attempt to better understand the nature of the relationship between Pacific family carers and the older family members they cared for at end of life, we have created digital stories in collaboration with Pacific caregivers. This form of media was chosen because of the ability to combine the power and personal connection of the storyteller’s own voice along with powerful images and video of their loved ones. This subject, although very private across Pacific communities, is necessary to call to action because of the support it gives others in similar situations, an  awareness of current issues faced by family carers , and to let our older adults know that we honor and value them for their love and service to family and community.

Our digital stories are an addition to the current research Tāpinga ‘a Maama: Pacific Life and Death in Advanced Age led by Dr Ofa Dewes, and funded by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment through the National Science Challenge for Ageing Well. The findings of this research will be released later this year.

Join us for our 2017 annual conference!

Mark your calendar and join us for our annual conference on 3 November at University of Auckland Tamaki Innovation Campus. See the link below for more details!