South Auckland Clinical Campus

Pacific Women’s Health Research and Development Unit

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The Pacific population of New Zealand is made up of many different ethnic groups. In 2013 there were 295,241 Pacific peoples in New Zealand and this population has continued to grow. Counties Manukau District Health Board has the most Pacific people of any District Health Board in New Zealand (Statistics NZ, 2013).

The health experience of New Zealanders is divided on ethnic lines with Pacific peoples experiencing poorer health than other New Zealanders, and factors impacting on the health of Pacific peoples are not well studied.

Government policy is based on research data. As there is little research on Pacific women, it is hoped that the Unit can inform policy and thereby improve care and services to Pacific women. Although the focus of research and development by the Unit will focus on Pacific women, the data and developments derived has the potential to improve the health of all women in New Zealand.

The Unit is underpinned by the philosophy that health research, workforce development and service programmes for Pacific women’s health must demonstrate:

  • Empowering Pacific leadership and Pacific communities. 
  • Cultural approach in engaging, dissemination and implementation of research findings and health programmes.

The group is under the aegis of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.



The purpose of the Unit is to:

  • Initiate, promote and conduct clinical and services research into priority areas that will inform and benefit the health of Pacific women.
  • Foster networking and partnerships amongst individuals and organisations in New Zealand and the Pacific to further research and services in Pacific women’s health.
  • Enhance research and training opportunities for Pacific postgraduates who are interested in Pacific women’s health.
  • Communicate and disseminate the outcomes of relevant Pacific women’s health research and contribute to policy formulation in Pacific women’s health.



The aim of the BRRACAP Study (Building Reproductive health Research and clinical Audit Capacity and Activity in the Pacific islands) is to train doctors and midwives in research and audit methodology for a week and then to support them, using PAR methodology, to achieve/deliver agreed and prioritized research/audit outputs over 2 years. The outputs are as defined by the participants, professional peers and key stakeholders. It is a collaborative project between the Pacific Society for Reproductive Health (PSRH) Charitable Trust, the University of Auckland and various partners. Read more.

Impact of using the International Association of Diabetes and Pregnancy Study Groups criteria in Counties Manukau DHB

Women with diabetes in pregnancy and their babies have, between them, increased risks of risk of pre-eclampsia, maternal depression, macrosomia, neonatal death, shoulder dystocia and other complications. This study will establish the prevalence of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus in the screened population presenting to the Counties Manukau Health service by using the New Zealand Society for the Study of Diabetes definition and compare it to the International Association of Diabetes and Pregnancy Study Groups criteria. Furthermore the study will determine the level of interventions and maternal and neonatal outcomes in the two groups. Read more.

Randomised pacebo controlled study of vitamin D during pregnancy and infancy

Vitamin D deficiency is common in New Zealand as are poor health outcomes associated with vitamin D deficiency. This randomised controlled study aims to determine the vitamin D dose in preganancy and early life that safely and effectively increases serum vitamin D concentration in infants. The research will provide advice to the Ministry of Health as to the most appropriate vitamin D dose in preganancy and infancy for New Zealand. It will determine the most appropriate vitamin D dose in pregnancy and infancy for a proposed randomised clinical trial of vitamin D in pregnancy and infancy aimed at reducing infectious diseases in early childhood, and preventing asthma and allergic diseases. Read more.

Maternal sleep practices and risk of late stillbirth - a multicentre New Zealand study

This study aims to determine whether sleeping patterns such as snoring, sleep position, duration of sleep and other sleep practices in pregnanat women are associated with risk of late stillbirth.