Working with Māori in regional research centres
MWC Deputy Director Professor Peter Shepherd and Associate Investigator Professor Tony Merriman have been instrumental in forging relationships between the Centre and Māori communities in regional New Zealand, leading to the founding of two joint research centres in Northland and the East Coast
Peter says such partnerships allow the MWC to target its research into areas of the country that have the greatest unmet healthcare needs.
“We are aiming to establish a permanent research presence in these local communities to tackle research questions most relevant to their needs. This is quite a different approach from what’s often occurred before, where researchers might collect samples in rural communities and return to the big cities to analyse them.”
The Moko Foundation
Working with The Moko Foundation, a community organisation led by Northland GP Dr Lance O’Sullivan, a jointly managed research unit named Waharoa ki te Toi has been established in Kaitaia. It will tackle key health challenges such as obesity, type-2 diabetes and rheumatic fever. The Moko Foundation will provide a local base and provide access to a range of innovative approaches to health monitoring and community links, while the MWC will bring access to top clinical and health researchers from across the country.
“This partnership is a different way to do health research and fits well with The Moko Foundation’s vision of connecting people with opportunities for a better Aotearoa New Zealand, by building meaningful and lasting partnerships through whakawhanaunga tanaga-based approaches,” says Lance, who is Chair of The Moko Foundation.
MWC Deputy Diretor Professer Peter Shepherd and The Moko Foundation Chair Dr Lancce O'Sullivan
Image courtesy of Peter Shepherd
The Ngāti Porou Hauora
An agreement to establish a second such research centre has also been signed between the Ngāti Porou Hauora Charitable Trust and the MWC. Ngāti Porou Hauora is an iwi-led health provider based in Te Puia Springs, north of Gisborne, and brings strong clinical expertise to the research partnership. Similar to the Northland partnership, Ngāti Porou Hauora and MWC will collaborate for the benefit of the local area community by combining their respective knowledge, expertise and research capabilities.
Teepa Wawatai, Chair of the Ngāti Porou Hauora Charitable Trust Board, says, “Diabetes, gout, heart and kidney disease are four of the most important health issues affecting our people and Ngāti Porou Hauora is excited to be working as an equal partner in developing this very important research programme.”
The joint health research centre originates from the ‘10-year Gout and Related Conditions: Genetics and Environment research programme’ co-developed by Ngāti Porou Hauora and MWC Associate Investigator Professor Tony Merriman and his team from the University of Otago. The centre will take this programme to the next stage by informing better management of the health conditions that are preventing people from living well and living longer.
“This is a natural progression from the work we have been doing,” says Tony. “By building greater critical mass of researchers and clinicians through the MWC, it will allow us to translate scientific knowledge into meaningful health benefits for the community.”
MWC and Ngāti Porou Hauora representatives (Top, left to right) Rose Kahaki, Professor Peter Shepherd, Professor Dave Grattan, Dr Ofa Dewes, Connor O’Sullivan, (Bottom, left to right) Teepa Wawatai, Professor Tony Merriman, Dr Jennie Harrѐ Hindmarsh
Photo courtesy of Peter Shepherd