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While significant health gains for both Maori   and Pacific have been made there is a need to keep amassing evidence of how the system works for these populations and what urgent changes can be implemented.

Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch (UOC)

Cyclist and Christchurch city panarama thumbnailThe Department of Psychological Medicine in Christchurch has two major streams of research:

  • Clinical Research
  • Health and Development Study

First-episode psychosis in Māori

Project grant funded by Rangahau Hauora Māori ( HRC ).
Investigators: Suzanne Pitama, Ruth Cunningham, James Stanley, Sue Crengle, Richard Porter, Marie Crowe

Māori and Bipolar Disorder

Project grant funded by Rangahau Hauora Māori ( HRC ).
Investigators: Suzanne Pitama, Ruth Cunningham, James Stanley, Jo Baxter, Sue Crengle, Roger Mulder, Richard Porter, Marie Crowe


Kōhatu–Centre for Hauora Māori

Jo Baxter thumbnailKōhatu provides the focus for hauora Māori (Māori health) within the Dunedin School of Medicine and involves teaching, research, Māori strategic development (including workforce and professional development), community networking, and student relationships and support.

Professor Jo Baxter, Director, has a range of research interests including Māori mental health, Māori medical workforce development, hazardous drinking among tertiary students and health inequalities.

She has current research collaborations with the Injury Prevention Research Unit (Hazardous drinking project) and the New Zealand Mental Health Epidemiology Survey team. She is also the Theme Leader for Māori Health in the Dunedin longitudinal study, a multidisciplinary, longitudinal study of 1,037 babies born in Dunedin during 1972–3.


Māori Indigenous Health Innovation (MIHI)

Suzanne Pitama thumbnailMāori Indigenous Health Innovation (MIHI) undertakes and supports research that explores Māori health inequities and building excellence in research evidence that contributes to Māori health advancement.

Māori mental health is a priority area within Māori health. Professor Suzanne Pitama has a clinical background in this field, which supports a desire to contribute to this area of research.

Other MIHI research interests include:

  • Stress cardiomyopathy and earthquakes
  • Epilepsy and depression
  • Broad mental health kaupapa
  • Broader Maori Health kaupapa


Ngāi Tahu Māori Health Research Unit – Te Roopū Rakahau Hauora Māori o Kāi Tahu

Kai tahu researchers thumbnailThe Ngāi Tahu Māori Health Research Unit (NTMHRU) contributes to a wide range of Māori health research projects and initiatives within the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, the University of Otago, and our communities to ensure important and beneficial outcomes for Māori.
Our people – Ko tātou

Research in mental health:

Scoping Rangatahi Primary Mental Health – A kaupapa Māori approach to identifying the gaps and need

Professor Sue Crengle, and Ms Vicky Nelson are aiming to improve primary mental health care for rangatahi by exploring:

  1. What rangatahi mental health needs and gaps are within community and primary mental healthcare contexts
  2. Primary mental health pathways and strategies that would address this need; being more responsive and effective for rangatahi Māori and their whānau

This project is underpinned by kaupapa Māori principles and theory and is supported by:

More about this project:
Vicky Nelson presented her research at the In-house Convention

The Psychological and Physical Health and Wellbeing of New Zealand Contemporary Veterans

Professor Emma Wyeth is a Named Investigator on this project led by Professor David McBride. The project aims to describe the risk and protective factors for health and well-being of New Zealand veterans, including specifically for Māori veterans, who have served during and since the Persian Gulf War. This study will help to determine the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Multiple Symptom Illness (MSI) for this group.​


Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora A Eru Pōmare – Eru Pōmare Māori Health Research Centre

Green fern thumbTe Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare strives to create a Kaupapa Māori space committed to improving Māori health outcomes and eliminating inequalities through quality science and ongoing theoretical development. It takes a rights-based approach consistent with the Treaty of Waitangi, and is engaged with community through a spectrum of influence from community development, policy advocacy, research dissemination and Māori health research workforce development.


Va'a o Tautai – Centre for Pacific Health

The Va'a o Tautai – Centre for Pacific Health, based within the Division of Health Sciences, hosts several projects related to mental health and well-being among Pacific communities.

Ola Malohi Research Group: Mental health and well-being of Pacific youth in higher education

Tai Sapoaga thumbnailFaumuina Associate Professor Fa'afetai Sopoaga, has been awarded an HRC grant for three years to investigate.

There are at least 30,000 Pacific students in tertiary institutions. This research seeks to support and enhance the mental health and well-being of Pacific students in tertiary institutions. We are seeking to determine the protective and resiliency factors, as well as other factors which impact on the health and mental well-being of Pacific students. We will explore students access to services, their experiences and expectations including barriers to using health or other support services. Furthermore, we wish to determine the role of access to services on their mental health, well-being and academic progress.


Sleep and well-being among Pacific children and adolescents

Professor Rose Richards has a HRC Pacific Project Grant to investigate sleep and well-being.

Rose Richards thumbnailEnsuring children and adolescents receive sufficient good-quality sleep is critical for their physical and emotional health. We currently know little about sleep in Pacific children and their families and how to best support good sleep / wake patterns within Pacific contexts. The overarching objective of this project is to inform the development of effective sleep interventions by capturing Pacific perspectives about sleep, health and interventions.

The first study will involve interviews with Pacific parents, exploring intergenerational changes in sleep patterns, associations between sleep and well-being and appropriateness of current sleep measurement and intervention strategies. A second study will use key informant interviews with Pacific health and educational professionals to explore the role of sleep in health / education outcomes for Pacific families and explore ways to maximise the effectiveness of sleep interventions for Pacific communities.


What happens to Pacific Island youth with mental health conditions: Evidence from the New Zealand Integrated Data Infrastructure

Lesieli Prescott, a Master's in Health Sciences candidate, is investigating.

In New Zealand there is currently an over representation of Pacific youth suffering from mental health conditions (MHCs). Despite this, little is known about the possible determinants leading to these conditions and furthermore, their association to other health outcomes. Using data extracted from the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI), this quantitative study retrospectively researched young Pacific people aged 10-14 years old who had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), mood disorder, anxiety, conduct disorder or substance disorder.

The aims of this research were to describe the diagnosis of these specified MHCs among Pacific youth in New Zealand; To explore the likelihood of deprivation and migration as determinants for the onset of these MHCs; And to examine whether there was an increased risk between the onset of these MHCs and the development of short-term health outcomes, measured by the occurrence of ambulatory sensitive hospitalisation (ASH) conditions.


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