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Tōmaiora Pānui

Tōmaiora Māori Health Research Group Newsletter One, December 2014

Image of Dr Matire Harwood, Director of Tōmaiora
Dr Matire Harwood, Director of Tōmaiora

Tēnā koutou katoa,

Nau mai, piki mai and welcome to the inaugural Tōmaiora Pānui. On behalf of our research group, I extend warm greetings to you all in the first, of what we hope will be a regular, newsletter about activities at Tōmaiora. Here you will learn more about who we are, what we do, and how we work with others in the field of Hauora Māori. We have highlighted some exciting research projects in this issue; but I also wish to bring your attention to the Tōmaiora Seminar Series. We have had fantastic speakers presenting the work they do with indigenous communities both in Aotearoa and internationally; if you can’t make the seminar, video recordings can be viewed on our website. Finally a big thank you to our editors, Karen and Bronwyn, who pulled this wonderful resource together – ngā mihi nui ki a kōrua.

Noho ora mai, Matire (Ngāpuhi), Director for Tōmaiora

In this Issue:

About Tōmaiora

Tōmaiora is a kaupapa Māori research group. We are a part of Te Kupenga Hauora Māori in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland. We are at the Tāmaki Innovation Campus in Glen Innes.

Tōmaiora’s vision is to be Leaders in Excellent Māori Health Research. Our research uses Kaupapa Māori Theory. It is Māori-led, Māori-partnered and Māori-influenced.

Our whakatauki, Rapua Te Mea Ngaro, has been interpreted for us by our kaumātua as Seek the Evidence.

Breaking news

Tōmaiora wishes to congratulate the following junior and emerging researchers from our group in receiving Health Research Council of New Zealand career development awards this month:

  • Dr Jennifer Reid – the Māori Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship to undertake ‘a kaupapa Māori feasibility study to improve type 2 diabetes in Whangaroa’
  • Erena Wikaire – a Māori Health Research PhD Scholarship to research ‘Māori participation in traditional Māori health practices’
  • Anna Fay – a Māori Health Research PhD Scholarship to support her study ‘towards medical education that addresses Indigenous rights to health’
  • Jordan Pearse – a Māori Health Research Masters Scholarship to investigate ‘micro-aggressions and Māori’.

HRC Board Chair Sir Robert Stewart, KNZM, says these awards contribute to improving health equity by investing in promising Māori health researchers who are best placed to identify and resolve health issues in their communities. “Māori health research graduates are in great demand across a number of sectors. We’re pleased to be able to support this talented pool of researchers as they seek to address the health needs and aspirations of Māori.” Ka mau te wehi!

Tōmaiora Research Projects

In each edition of the Tōmaiora Pānui we will introduce a couple of our research projects, providing an overview and different perspectives. In this edition we are featuring our ‘Marae Food Gardens’ project and the ‘Kaupapa Māori Literature Resource’.

Marae Food Gardens: Health and Wellbeing through urban marae in Tāmaki Makaurau

Image of Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae, Mangere, South Auckland. This photo shows wharenui/whare tipuna from across the community/food gardens. Shared with permission
Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae, Mangere, South Auckland. This photo shows wharenui/whare tipuna from across the community/food gardens. Shared with permission

Headed by Dr Rhys Jones, this Health Research Council funded project features a strong team including Dr Brad Coombes, Dr Anneka Anderson, Kimiora Raerino and Dr Rebekah Fuller.

Now entering its third year, the project’s aim has been to look at how culture and location impact on the ways in which people participate in activities that improve health.

Kimiora Raerino is completing her PhD as part of this project. “I am constantly surprised and impressed with the tenacity of urban marae and their committed members, in maintaining their gardens despite often the lack of financial and participation support. An important aspect of my study is to highlight that urban marae often lack support in a number of areas, including financial and participation … despite this, many marae continue to provide fresh food garden produce for their communities. An important aspect of my study is that urban marae are integral venues to host holistic health initiatives for urban Māori, our culture is rich and abundant on marae”

Using information gathered from focus groups and interviews, the research pulls together the stories, perceptions, motivations, struggles and achievements experienced by those involved in running a food garden in an urban setting.

Presenting their findings to the various marae that have taken part in the research is a crucial component of the research and will be carried out next year as the project comes to a close.

Dr Rebekah Fuller has been working closely with the marae to maintain relationships. “Even though I am new on board, I have enjoyed getting to know the marae participants and trying to keep those relationships warm. One of the ways we have tried to do this is through sharing traditional kumara cultivars donated from another department in the University. One of the things I am looking forward to is information sharing hui to be held at some of the participating marae. It will be chance for marae to connect, share experiences and korero about their gardens, as well as an important chance for us to share the results of our study”.

Image of Philip McKibbin, Research Assistant
Philip McKibbin, Research Assistant

Kaupapa Māori Literature Resource

The Kaupapa Māori Literature Resource is a project undertaken by Research Assistant, Philip McKibbin. He has been working alongside Associate Professor Papaarangi Reid (Head of Department), Dr Matire Harwood (Director of Tōmaiora) as well as the University of Auckland Library team to bring together the concept and its design.

Kaupapa Māori research is sometimes described as being ‘by Māori, for Māori’. Historically, research on Māori (often by non-Māori) has done more harm than good – so Kaupapa Māori researchers ensure that their projects involve Māori at all levels, and that their research will benefit Māori.

The literature available on this type of research approach is growing. Sometimes students and researchers can find it difficult to know where to start looking for information. The online resource that Philip is developing seeks to address this issue, and will be especially useful for students and researchers who are new to Kaupapa Māori theory and research. Already established Kaupapa Māori researchers will also benefit from the resource as a means to find literature that is relevant to their research projects.

Anna Fay, one of our PhD students, is looking forward to using the resource. As Kaupapa Māori has multiple meanings, navigating Kaupapa Māori literature can be overwhelming and time-consuming. The literature resource will assist researchers to find Kaupapa Māori resources that are relevant to their particular area of research, while still allowing them to read widely on Kaupapa Māori theory, methodology, research and practice. This will be a fantastic resource that will benefit students and researchers and contribute to the recognition of the significance of Kaupapa Māori research within the University.

The literature resource has been designed with many groups in mind. It will be accessible to students and researchers from both within and outside the University of Auckland. Philip has been working with our Tōmaiora whānau, librarians and IT technicians to finalise the plan for this literature resource, before setting it up online. It is hoped that the Kaupapa Māori literature resource will be ready by Semester Two, 2015. Watch this space for updates!


Student Spotlight

Image of Hannah Burges, Honours Student
Hannah Burgess, Honours Student

Hannah Burgess

Hannah’s iwi are Tūwharetoa/Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi. She was born in Auckland and grew up in Thailand and Australia. She has now moved back home to Auckland for her studies.

Currently an honours student, her research is about Māori and Pacific student success in the Bachelor of Health Sciences programme (BHSc). Her supervisors are Dr Elana Curtis and Dr Matire Harwood. Hannah chose to research the BHSc because she is a graduate of that programme herself. She enjoys hearing the student voice, and gathering the students’ rich collective experiences.

Hannah says “I love research because I believe it is a powerful mechanism to effect change in society, to better the health and wellbeing of whānau, hapū and iwi in Aotearoa. I also love that I get to work amongst the amazing researchers at Te Kupenga Hauora Māori – I hope to follow in their footsteps”.

She says she loves kaupapa Māori research (KMR) because “it gives me a ‘space’ to carry out research that challenges the status quo of the institutions we operate in. I love that KMR is about more than just research, it is a part of the broader struggle of Māori against colonisation. It speaks to me in a way that allows me to engage in research and understanding, to help better the health and wellbeing of my people”.

 Good luck with your honours project, Hannah. We look forward to great things from you!

Sad passing of Tainui kaumātua Eru Thompson

Tainui kaumātua Eru Thompson

Kua hinga te tōtara i te wao nui o Tāne. Nō reira e te rangatira e Eru, e moe. Moe atu rā i raro I ngā parirau atawhai o ngō mātua tūpuna, rātou kua mene atu kei tua o Paerau. Waiho mai ko tou whānau, ko mātou hoki o te whare wānanga nei hei hapai i ngō tapuwae. E kore koe e warewaretia.

It is with heartfelt sadness that the faculty acknowledges the passing of Tainui kaumātua Eru Thompson who has been a stalwart supporter for more than 15 years.

He has played a pioneering role alongside Te Kaanga Skipper in the introduction of the Whakanoa process developed to support the cultural, spiritual and emotional needs of students participating in dissection and the study of human anatomy.

Our deepest sympathies go out to his whānau and colleagues.

Tōmaiora New and Emerging Researchers Group

Image of From left to right: Erena Wikaire, Hannah Burgess, Rewa Worley, Anna Fay and Karen Brewer Absent: Kimiora Raerino
From left to right: Erena Wikaire, Hannah Burgess, Rewa Worley, Anna Fay and Karen Brewer Absent: Kimiora Raerino

The Tōmaiora New and Emerging Researchers Group includes Honours students, Masters students, PhD students, postdoctoral research fellows and research assistants. Our purpose is “to unite, support and extend emerging Maori health researchers within Tōmaiora for collective success”. The group meets once a month and people who are out of town join in via Skype. Meetings provide opportunities for group members to set research goals and keep each other accountable to achieving them, practise for upcoming research presentations and receive peer feedback, discuss research results and solve problems. The group also holds writing days on campus where everyone comes together to share kai and focus on their own writing in a quiet supportive environment.

Recently, six of the group (pictured) were fortunate to attend the Kaupapa Rangahau Workshop Series in Hopuhopu, Ngāruawāhia. This series was hosted by Te Kotahi Research Institute and Waikato-Tainui College of Research and Development, on behalf of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga. Over a period of eight days, workshops covered kaupapa Māori theory, methodology and methods (both qualitative and quantitative). The group learnt a lot about research, networked with awesome Māori researchers, and enjoyed the hospitality of Waikato-Tainui.

Tōmaiora Seminars

Our guest speaker for the October 2014 Tōmaiora seminar was Dr Tahu Kukutai. Her talk ‘Measuring and monitoring Indigenous wellbeing: The need for new paradigms’ was both informative and enlightening.


Dr Tahu Kukutai (Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Maniapoto, Te Aupōuri) is Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis (NIDEA) at The University of Waikato. Tahu leads the NIDEA research programme Te para one te tū mai nei: Māori and Indigenous Futures, and the Ethnicity Counts? Project which looks at how governments around the world count and classify their populations by ethnicity.

She is also part of an international research project, funded by the Swedish Research Council, which is investigating the impacts of colonisation on Indigenous population health in Sweden, New Zealand and Australia. Tahu serves on the Māori Statistics Advisory Committee to the Government Statistician and the Population Association of New Zealand Council. She has degrees in history and demography from the University of Waikato and a PhD in sociology from Stanford University.


In the settler states of Australasia and North America, governments invest substantial time and resources in measuring and monitoring the wellbeing outcomes of their Indigenous peoples. In New Zealand there is a growing appetite for evidence-informed policy and policymakers now have access to an unprecedented volume of data measuring aspects of Māori wellbeing across a broad suite of indicators. While technological innovations have enabled more sophisticated methods of data collection and integration, the concepts, values and interpretive frameworks used to define and statistically measure Māori wellbeing continue to be largely controlled by nonindigenous researchers and institutions. In this talk I make a case for developing new paradigms of defining and measuring Māori wellbeing – ones which locate Māori priorities and aspirations at the centre of the research process and which entail a meaningful commitment to building Māori capability. Using case studies from New Zealand and abroad I discuss some of the ways in which Indigenous polities are responding to these limitations by generating their own demographic profiles and wellbeing indicators as a form of community governance. I also suggest ways in which the official statistics that inform policy might be ‘indigenized’ in order to better meet the needs of Māori communities.


If you missed this seminar, you can view the video recording of it on our website here

The 2015 Tōmaiora Seminar series will be starting in February with a great line up of amazing speakers.

Check our website late January for the details.


Upcoming postgraduate courses in Te Kupenga Hauora Māori

Semester One, 2015
MAORIHTH 710 - Kaupapa Māori Theory
Course coordinator: Papaarangi Reid.

Kaupapa Māori Theory (KMT) is used to make sure policy, research and interventions emphasise Māori ways of knowing and being and work to prevent Māori being marginalised further. In this course students learn about the development of KMT and its use in Māori health and development. They experience and learn from a range of KMT projects and initiatives.

Our Editors

The editors of Tōmaiora Pānui are Dr Karen Brewer and Bronwyn Bay.

Karen Brewer (Whakatōhea, Ngaiterangi) is a speech-language therapist. She has just graduated with a PhD from the University of Auckland. Karen started work in Tōmaiora in April 2014. Her mahi is to design and trial a kaupapa Māori speech-language therapy resource for whānau with communication difficulties caused by stroke. Karen is married to Gavin and lives in East Auckland.

Bronwyn Bay is the Group Services Administrator in Te Kupenga Hauora Māori. Bronwyn has a Bachelor of Communications Studies from AUT University and has experience in working in both radio and internet companies in event coordination and administrative roles.

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Contact us

Tōmaiora Pānui
Feedback or questions about the Tōmaiora Pānui can
be directed to: Karen Brewer

Tōmaiora Research Group

Director of Tōmaiora: Matire Harwood

Group Services Administrator: Bronwyn Bay

The newsletter is available here to download as PDF: