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Māori health researchers receive career development awards

Flax kete

Wednesday 23 December 2015 1:24pm

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Several University of Otago students are among 21 emerging Māori health researchers to receive a Health Research Council (HRC) Māori career development award this year.

Two Otago PhD students have been awarded HRC scholarships to investigate aged care needs for Māori and why Māori drowning rates are so high, respectively. Four other students have gained $5000 HRC summer studentships to undertake 10-week projects.

Otago’s HRC Māori health research
career development awards:

PhD scholarships

Ms Karen Keelan
A qualitative investigation of experiences of aged residential care by Māori
60 months, $104,680

At present there is a paucity of information comparing and contrasting Māori needs and preferences in Aged Residential Care (ARC). This project offers the unique opportunity to explore and examine the views of elderly Māori ARC users and their whānau around their perceptions and experiences with ARC. Semi-structured interviews with rural and urban samples of elderly Māori and whānau from two different regions (Christchurch and Te Tairawhiti) will be conducted. Information will be collected examining pathways into ARC, factors contributing to decisions about ARC, process of reaching decisions about ARC, expectations and experience of delivery of ARC, relationship with ARC and other health care providers and perceived gaps in services. The findings from this study will make an important contribution to the creation of Māori health knowledge in this area and will be integrated to develop an evidence base for best practice in ARC facilities.

Miss Chanel Phillips
Kia maanu, kia ora: Examining Māori water safety
36 months, $120,016

Māori are deeply connected to the ocean. Yet, Māori have alarming rates of drowning within the ocean environment. Although Māori comprise approximately 15 per cent of New Zealand’s population, Māori account for 22 per cent of the national drowning statistics (Water Safety New Zealand, 2015; Haimona & Takurua, 2007). There is very little published research that examines why Māori have high rates of drowning despite a cultural connection to water. This doctoral research will investigate the health connection of Māori to the ocean, rivers and lakes and highlight whether the health connection contributes to Māori drowning rates. I will employ Kaupapa Māori theory and Critical Discourse Analysis to frame the research. Methods of study include: semi-structured interviews, hui (group interviews), wānanga kōrero (wānanga interviews), reflective piece and two case studies in Hawkes Bay and Otago.

Summer studentships

Miss Ngareka Bensemann
Oranga niho mokopuna: A literature review of early childhood caries in Aotearoa
10 weeks, $5000

The applicant is a fourth-year Māori dentistry student, with an interest in public health—especially the inequality of Māori health compared to non-Māori health. This summer studentship award would allow the applicant to be exposed to valuable research skills that will be beneficial for all future research she may undertake as a Māori health professional. The research of Oranga Niho Mokopuna will bring to light the oral health status of the young children in Aotearoa, to not only show any disparities that there may currently be, but to give guidelines on what areas need to be addressed and worked on for the improvement of such disparities.

Miss Nadine Houia-Ashwell
A survey of Māori health professional students at Otago
10 weeks, $5000

There are currently over 250 Māori students at Otago University studying in the eight undergraduate health professional programmes. Māori students gain entry into these programmes by applying under the Māori sub-category of admissions. Students who are Māori can apply under this category. This category of admissions is very important and there have been increasing numbers of Māori students applying and gaining entry to health professional programmes over recent years. On graduation these students will contribute to the Māori Health Workforce. One issue that has been noted is that Māori students themselves have varied understandings and experiences of the reasons for the Māori sub-category of admissions. This research will investigate using an internet-based questionnaire, to Māori students in health professional programmes at Otago, what is their knowledge and experiences of applying under the Māori sub-category. This can be used to enhance approaches to supporting future Māori applicants.

Ms Samantha Jackson
Ko Māhuhu te waka: Māhuhu is the ancestral canoe
10 weeks, $5000

I am interested in (1) examining waka kōrero to see whether there is archival evidence or pūrākau relating to the medicinal properties of cargo on board the ancestral waka and the relevance of this knowledge today, and (2) to investigate the potential of medical screens for Haunui voyagers.

Mr Jordan Tewhaiti-Smith
Barriers and enablers for Māori children accessing primary health care
10 weeks, $5000

Unmet needs for Māori children are alarmingly high and this project will focus on identifying barriers and enablers for our Māori children getting the primary health care services that are now provided free of charge (eliminating the main barrier to health care for whānau). Interviews will be conducted with key informants who have sufficient knowledge about the social factors and themes around troubles and motives for whānau getting their children to see a general practitioner or nurse at a primary health care organisation. These informants will most likely be working at the interface between whānau and health care and will therefore have the relevant experience with whānau. The project will be based in urban Dunedin and participants will be selected from organisations around Dunedin who have roles in health and social services. The focus of discussion will be based on Māori children who live in areas of relatively high deprivation.

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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