Māori And Pacific Wellbeing Focus For Health Research Council Award Winners

Four emerging University of Waikato researchers have
received Health Research Council (HRC) Career Development
Awards to build knowledge supporting Māori and Pacific
wellbeing. Collectively, the four awards represent more than
$960,000 in investment.

Dr Ngāhuia Murphy and Dr
Joeliee Seed-Pihama will undertake fellowships with Te Pua
Wānanga ki te Ao Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies,
focusing on different aspects of Māori sexual health and

Dr Ryan G Paul will work with the
University’s Medical Research Centre exploring training
models for health professionals treating type 2 diabetes.
Cori Poimatagi will complete a summer studentship with Te
Pua Wānanga ki te Ao looking at the role of Pacific
identity and spirituality in mental health.

Ngāhuia Murphy

Dr Murphy is a Kaupapa Māori Mana
Wahine (Māori feminine worldview) researcher. Her HRC
fellowship project will extend on her doctoral research,
seeking to revitalise customary terms and knowledge related
to Māori women’s bodies in order to improve their
reproductive and sexual health and wellbeing.

intend to do this through the creation of a mana wahine
toolkit that will be published on an online platform,”
says Dr Murphy.

“The toolkit will recover customary
terms and knowledge for the feminine reproductive body that
can directly inform decolonising interventions that instill
pride rather than shame as a foundation for holistic
wellbeing and positive health outcomes.”

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Dr Joeliee

Dr Seed-Pihama is currently a
postdoctoral research fellow at Te Kotahi Research
Institute. Her HRC fellowship research will explore the
needs and experiences of taiohi (youth) growing up in te reo
Māori speaking whānau, with regard to healthy sexualities,
genders and intimate relationships.

“My Kaupapa
Māori research aims to build whānau-centred bodies of
knowledge that incorporate the successes and challenges
whānau are experiencing in using mātauranga Māori (Māori
knowledge) to support taiohi on their journeys,” says Dr

Her background as a sexuality education
advisor for Kura Kaupapa Māori (Māori immersion schools)
and a Kaupapa Māori researcher converge for this project,
which will support young adults to navigate sexual and
reproductive health as Māori, enabling better health
outcomes for them.

Dr Ryan G Paul

Dr Paul is a
physician in endocrinology and diabetes at Waikato District
Health Board, and a senior lecturer at the University of

He recently helped develop new clinical
guidelines for treating type 2 diabetes in New Zealand. His
HRC research will trial blended (online and in-person)
education for general practice clinic staff to embed the new
guidelines. The end goal is to improve care for patients
with type 2 diabetes and reduce health inequities between
Māori and non-Māori patients.

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“Type 2 diabetes and
its complications disproportionately affect Māori,
resulting in Māori dying earlier than non-Māori from
cardiovascular disease and diabetic renal disease,” says
Dr Paul. “We expect this project to reduce inequities in
care of Māori patients with type 2 diabetes in the Waikato,
and if rolled out beyond our region, to reduce ethnic
disparities in care nationwide.”

Mr Cori

Mr Poimatagi is studying a Master of
Counselling and works in accessibility services at the
University of Waikato.

His research aims to explore
Pacific approaches to mental health and wellbeing,
encompassing Pacific identity and spirituality. This will
help form a Pacific-centred research framework to enable
further exploration in this field.

“A higher
percentage of Pacific people experience mental health
issues, compared to the overall population in New
Zealand,” says Mr Poimatagi. “I am committed to growing
knowledge in relation to the effects of spiritual
displacement for Pacific people both young and old,
exploring strategies and approaches that develop

The 2021 HRC Career Development Awards
for University of Waikato researchers are as

  • Dr Murphy won the Erihapeti Rehu-Murchie
    Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Dr Seed-Pihama won the Hohua
    Tutengaehe Research Fellowship in Māori Health
  • Dr
    Paul won the Foxley Fellowship
  • Mr Poimatagi won a
    Pacific Health Summer
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