Research into Māori health is one of the six key areas for the Health Services Research Centre. Read about some of there recent projects.
Interventions for deaf and hearing-impaired children and their whānau
Kirsten Smiler’s PhD research explores the nature and impacts of early intervention for Māori Deaf/hearing-impaired children and their whānau.
Māori deaf and hearing-impaired children are over-represented in diagnostic statistics; often diagnosed at a later age than other children.
The recent introduction of newborn screening for hearing loss in Aotearoa aims to identify hearing loss during the early years, in the hope that intervention services are timely and capture young children during a critical period of language development.
Case studies explore the experiences and expectations of Māori Deaf children and their whānau and key informants working within in the early intervention sector. The research commenced in late 2006. Kirsten was on parental leave during 2008 and resumed her research in 2009.
Health Research Council of New Zealand
The significance of culture in mental health understandings
Drawing on findings from her doctoral research, Lynne Pere’s postdoctoral research investigates the influence of culture on the meanings that Indigenous peoples with mental health experience impart to their illness, and the implications of this for mental health service delivery and policy. The qualitative study involves face-to-face, in depth ‘kōrero’ with Indigenous peoples with personal mental health experience, and Indigenous mental health experts, from tribal regions and mental health services within New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
To date, a number of international conference presentations and published journal articles have focused on the importance of listening to and hearing Indigenous voice. They explore the possibility that when time is taken to consider Indigenous understandings, when there is a genuine interest in Indigenous people’s experiences, mental health recovery improves through a greater sense of ‘being understood’ and accepted, and an increased self-worth. These outputs have more recently been influenced by data collection throughout Australia involving ‘yarns’ with around 50 Aboriginal leaders and health experts. Common themes that emerged focus on internalised racism, Indigenous silence and Indigenous voice, suicide, intergenerational trauma and cultural resilience. Analysis of this data is currently underway, with further data collection planned in Canada in 2010. Melody (Cheryl) Naera-Barnett is now working with Lynne on this project.
Health Research Council of New Zealand
Lynne Pere, Melody (Cheryl) Naera-Barnett
Facilitating whānau resilience through Māori primary health intervention
This research examines how the concept of resilience is utilised in Māori primary health programmes and how it relates to whānau ora.
The research is a partnership between a Māori health provider Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority (Ms Jennifer Tamehana), the Health Services Research Centre and Whakauae Research Services (Dr Heather Gifford, Dr Amohia Boulton).
Using key informant interviews and focus groups the research will test the hypothesis that primary health approaches in Māori settings have the ability to assist whānau to increase resilience by supporting individuals and whānau to find resources that sustain their wellbeing and to do so in culturally meaningful ways. Outcomes include:
- a) a greater understanding of the link between whānau ora and resilience and the role of Māori health providers in strengthening individual, whānau and community resilience;
- b) a mechanism for strengthening the role of research in Māori PHO health service provision so that research becomes part of programme development;
- c) a baseline from which measures of Indigenous resilience may be developed.
During 2009, data collection on the project commenced with a review of the literature and collation of key documents. Fieldwork took place in 2010.
Health Research Council of New Zealand
Organising committee for Hui Whakapiripiri
The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) held its annual hui for Māori health researchers at Te Papa Tongarewa/Museum of New Zealand, Wellington in August 2006.
The purpose of the hui was to promote current Māori health research and researchers, to encourage the participation of emerging Māori researchers, and to create linkages and networks between the Māori health sector and research developments.
The Hui Whakapiripiri 2006 was co-hosted by HSRC and Te Kawa a Māui/School of Māori Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, and Te Kete Hauora/Māori Health Directorate of the Ministry of Health/Manatū Hauora.
Health Research Council of New Zealand, 2006
Lynne Pere, Kirsten Smiler, Tai Walker
The application and understanding of the notion of whānau in the social policy environment
The aim of this study was to explore with Māori within the policy environment their understandings of the concepts of whānau and its use in social policy settings.
The literature covers a period of 60 years, and has been reported on by conceptually diverse disciplines.
The result has been a range of constructs and new ways of viewing whānau.
The Families Commission, 2006
Contracting for whānau ora
This post-doctoral research explores the issues and challenges that funders, planners and providers have in contracting for “whānau ora” at the district level.
It builds on two significant pieces of work undertaken by this research group: Amohia Boulton’s doctorate which examined performance measurement for Māori mental health providers, and the Health Reforms 2001 project which evaluated District Health Board (DHB) establishment.
Through a detailed case study in a single DHB, an understanding of the contracting process between DHB and providers of services to Māori and mainstream will be gained. The research will seek to improve the local contracting process by synthesising provider, purchaser, policy and indigenous perspectives.
Health Research Council of New Zealand, 2006-2008
Amohia Boulton, Chris Cunningham (Te Pūmanawa Hauora, Massey University), and Jackie Cumming
Cultural identity and wellbeing
This project is to disseminate the findings of Lynne Pere’s doctoral research, which examined the relationship between cultural identity and wellbeing. Testing the assumption that mental health depends as much on culture and identity as psycho-biology, the research examined the worldviews of 17 Tāngata Whai Ora (Māori who have had experience of mental illness). Their views on mental illness, within the context of the mental health recovery approach, constituted the core of the study.
Two main sets of conclusions emerged from the research. First, just as a secure cultural identity pays dividends in the recovery process, so can a cultural identity that has not been allowed to flourish increases the intensity of confusion and complexity that accompanies mental illness. Second, understanding mental illness has two dimensions: clinical; and personal. The findings of this research do not claim that a secure cultural identity will necessarily protect against mental illness. They do demonstrate, however, that cultural identity is an important factor in the recovery process and that the recovery process itself can contribute to a secure cultural identity.
BRCSS Network, 2006-200
A model for understanding “cultural” performance standards in Māori mental health, and contracting for whānau ora
Amohia Boulton’s PhD research focussed on developing a model for understanding the intersection between Māori and mainstream standards of health care performance. Amohia is based at Te Pūmanawa Hauora in Palmerston North while receiving co-supervision and training from the Health Services Research Centre. Amohia graduated with her PhD in late 2005, and now has funding from the Health Research Council of New Zealand for post-doctoral research on Contracting for whānau ora.
Health Research Council of NZ, 2000-2005
Amohia Boulton, Chris Cunningham (Te Pūmanawa Hauora, Massey University), Jackie Cumming
Perceptions of cultural and linguistic identity of Māori members of the New Zealand Deaf community
This research is Kirsten Smiler’s MA thesis and investigates the nature of Māori Deaf people’s life experiences in terms of relationships, and language use within Māori and Deaf worlds. It describes some of the complexities and cross-cultural misunderstandings Māori Deaf people face and introduces a model to understand how participants articulate their identity as multifaceted and responsive. Kirsten completed the research, graduated in Social Sciences with an MA Applied Linguistics (Merit) in 2005, and is writing up the research findings for publication.
Health Research Council, 2003–2005.
Exploring the perceptions, understandings and practice of the concepts of whānau and whānau ora
This research is Tai Walker’s PhD thesis on Whakahokia mai te wh ānau ki te wh ānau: an exploration of the evolution of the concept of whānau.
The research involves key informant interviews and focus groups with the government and non-government sector, and with members of Ngati Porou, in relation to concepts of whānau and whānau ora. A literature review was undertaken and fieldwork, which will continue in 2006, is underway.
Health Research Council of New Zealand/FRST, 2005-2007.
The relationship between cultural identity and wellbeing
This doctorate research by Lynne Pere, due for completion in early 2006, examines the relationship between cultural identity and wellbeing, in order to answer the research question: “Does a secure cultural identity lead to improved wellbeing for Tāngata Whai Ora (Māori with experience of mental illness)? ”
Indigenous people the world over have considered this relationship, questioning whether a confidence in ethnic values, customs, and practices leads to greater wellbeing. As a result of this research, Lynne has been able to demonstrate that although a secure cultural identity will not necessarily protect against mental illness, cultural identity is nonetheless an important factor in the mental health recovery process, and the recovery process itself can enhance cultural identity. Lynne joined the HSRC in late 2005.
Health Services Research Centre