$1.4m research grant for partnership maternity project between Ngāti Toa and NCWHRA

Enabling access to more timely, appropriate care for pregnant women in Porirua will be the focus of a new integrated hub.

Designed by the National Centre for Women’s Health Aotearoa researchers and Ngāti Toa Rangatira, in collaboration with the Capital and Coast District Health Board, the hub will provide care, services and support on-site for pregnant women and their whānau.

Professor Beverley Lawton and her team at Te Tātai Hauora o Hine—National Centre for Women’s Health Research Aotearoa (NCWHRA) have received a three-year $1.4m Health Research Council grant for the project, which will be run in partnership with Ngāti Toa. The project is entitled Hapū Whānau: Implementing Iwi-owned service hubs to improve health outcomes and starts on 1 February.

The collaborative Iwi-DHB-research project will involve the design and establishment of an integrated Hapū Whānau Hub in Porirua, bringing specialist and community services to whānau where they are located.

Lead investigator Professor Lawton says the current system is unsafe for Māori wāhine, pēpi, and whānau who experience persistent health inequities throughout the maternal-child continuum.

“Without profound changes, there will continue to be unacceptable, avoidable harm for Māori. New ways of working are urgently required to meet complex clinical, social, and cultural needs and enable integrated, seamless service provision in a timely manner.”

Chief executive and executive director of Ngāti Toa Rangatira Mr Helmut Modlik is a co-investigator and Iwi-lead for this project. The project will focus the system to respond to the real needs of hapū māmā with a Kaupapa Māori lens, with timely care delivered in the Porirua community, he says.

“Improving accessibility and equity in healthcare and health outcomes is an urgent priority for everyone, and Ngāti Toa is excited to be partnering with Te Herenga Waka targeting innovative improvement in this priority area of care.”

The partnership project will establish a Hapū Whānau Hub that will be available to all hapū māmā (Māori and non-Māori) living in Porirua.

In addition to Dr Lawton, other staff from Te Herenga Waka’s National Centre for Women’s Health Research Aotearoa involved include Professor Stacie Geller, senior research fellows Francesca Storey and Dr Melanie Gibson-Helm, and researcher Tina Bennett. The project will also involve investigators from the Capital and Coast District Health Board, University of Otago, and University of Auckland.