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Te Rangawairua o Paratene Ngata Research Centre opens on East Coast

8 August 2018

The Te Rangawairua o Paratene Ngata Research Centre, led by Ngāti Porou Hauora in partnership with the Maurice Wilkins Centre, was officially opened on Thursday 2 August at Te Puia Springs Hospital on New Zealand’s East Coast.

The centre is named after the late Dr Paratene (Pat) Ngata, a renowned East Coast GP widely recognised for his contributions to improving Māori health.

Dr Pat, who was born at Tologa Bay, studied medicine at the University of Auckland and University of Otago. After graduating, he mentored young medical students and encouraged Māori to enter the profession.

He subsequently played an important role in community health well into the 1990s. He served as a director of the Midland Regional Health Authority from 1991-1995, and helped found Ngāti Porou Hauora and Te ORA. Dr Pat was made a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners in 2008, a year before he passed away.

Of note, Dr Pat also was pivotal in Ngāti Porou Hauora, becoming involved in health research projects such as the “Genetics of Gout Study” led by Professor Tony Merriman.

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Representatives of the centre's partner organisations, Ngāti Porou Hauora and the Maurice Wilkins Centre, pose for a photo during the opening.

Representatives from the Maurice Wilkins Centre, national and international health experts, policy makers and funders attended the opening of the new research centre hosted by Ngāti Porou Hauora, joining with members of the local community to celebrate a further realisation of Dr Pat’s aspirations. The event was reported by the Gisborne Herald, Radio Ngati Porou and Māori Television

Ngāti Porou Hauora Chairman Teepa Wawatai paid tribute to Dr Pat, saying the new centre was a testament to his legacy.

“These are the things that he left behind to inspire us. Te Rangawairua o Paratene is such an apt name. It represents what he stood for,” he was quoted as saying. “His hopes and deepest desires have become ours.”

Professor Peter Shepherd, Deputy Director of the Maurice Wilkins Centre, agreed whole-heartedly, saying the Maurice Wilkins Centre shared the same vision as Dr Pat.

“We want to change the world by working together. To solve these problems, it needs all of our efforts together,” said Professor Shepherd. “We are proud and honoured to be part of this.”

The new centre will initially be involved in partnering with the Maurice Wilkins Centre on the “Sugar in Schools Study” to measure the ability of New Zealand school children to absorb fructose and in the studies to assess the links between genetic factors and metabolic disease risk in Māori. Longer term, it is envisaged the centre will build on the experience gained to develop its own research questions based on health issues of most importance to Ngāti Porou people.

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Maurice Wilkins Centre representatives Professor Tony Merriman (left) and Professor Peter Shepherd (centre), and Mr Connor O'Sullivan, Innovation Hub Coordinator with The Moko Foundation (right).