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Project overview

This study set out to explore how accessible health and disability organisations are for Māori living with a disability and their whānau in Southland / Murihiku.

Identifying both the barriers and the facilitators to accessibility, and, based on our findings, to make recommendations for improving accessibility of such services. In Māori concepts of health there is no clear distinction between health and disability and thus no clear definition of disability. Therefore the study did not predetermine the term “disability” and was open to a broad interpretation of it and allowed participants to self-identify their disability. Similarly a broad definition was used in identifying organisations that provide a health or disability service.

As a result, the research had a broad representation across “types” of disability and organisations, as well as covering city, small town, and rural areas in Southland. Data were collected from health and disability organisations, but more importantly, using a kaupapa Māori approach, the team worked alongside Māori living with disability and their whānau to gain their perspective. Our main findings were the four themes that emerged relating to what made our hauā Māori participants feel well and healthy: 1) Feeling valued, (2) Being connected/keeping in touch, (3) Having a strong sense of self identity and self-worth, and (4) Being able to access appropriate resources. Conversely, factors that disabled the hauā Māori from accessing organisations were: (1) Not being valued; (2) Negative impacts of discrimination, colonisation, and disconnection; (3) Lack of self-worth; and (4) Poor access to resources.

This study was funded by a Ministry of Health and Health Research Council of New Zealand grant.


Nga Kete Matauranga Pounamu (NKMP) Charitable Trust

Nga Kete Matauranga Pounamu is a not for profit mana whenua kaupapa Maori health & social service provider with 11 years' service delivery, providing services including disability information and advocacy, Māori mobile nursing, Māori led health promotion, smoking cessation, whānau services, restorative justice and much more. Employing 48 staff of which 98% are Māori the services engages in excess of 32,000 face to face encounters per annum with an active client base of 3,000 plus clients. NKMP has offices in Invercargill and the Wakatipu and extends a whānau ora inspired service delivery within the Southern District Health Board boundaries. NKMP is NZS ISO 9001:2008 accredited with a mission that works to 'Connect Whānau to resources, Ideas and Energy for Wellbeing and Independence'. Values that personify the agency are upheld Aroha ki te Tangata – having the highest regard for the well-being and welfare of mankind. Tracey Wright-Tawha is the CEO.

Community events

Art show 2013

The Kairakahau Māori learnt that many of the study participants had a passion for the arts. Some were studying art, some have been producing a wide range of mixed medium artworks over their life times and others would consider themselves hobbyists. All use art as a way to structure their day, to network into other community groups and ultimately to enhance their: hauora, wairua and mauriora. Whilst working through a dissemination plan it seemed it would be both appropriate and exciting to combine the creative talents of the participants with the public feedback of the Hauā Mana Māori research project. Participants and Ngā Kete Mātauranga Pounamu Charitable Trust were consulted about the concept of an art exhibition as a way of disseminating the research findings and the idea was met with excitement and support from all. A two-day art exhibition was held in Invercargill from 9th-11th August 2013. This was a community wide event honouring those who took part in this project and those they represented within the disability community. It also highlighted the mutual respect and learning that occurred between the research team and the local Māori community. The event was extremely well received by both participants and the public and some wonderful art works were developed and displayed. The exhibition concluded with a karakia whakamūtunga (closing blessing) on the Sunday afternoon, this provided an opportunity to use tikaka to formally and spiritually close the Hauā Mana Māori research project.

Research team

The research team is a collaboration between the Centre for Health, Activity, and Rehabilitation Research at the School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, The Donald Beasley Institute, and Nga Kete Matauranga Pounamu Charitable Trust

Professor Leigh Hale

Leigh is an internationally recognised physiotherapy disability and rehabilitation researcher.

Dr Brigit Mirfin-Veitch

Brigit has been involved in research and education in the area of intellectual disability (ID) for 16 years and is recognised internationally as having expertise in health and health education for people with ID. She is an experienced qualitative researcher and has a strong commitment to ensuring that disabled people, their families/whānau and supporters, and the disability service sector all have a voice within and through research.

Professor Stephan Milosavljevic

Stephan is an experienced researcher in clinical and community-based research focussing on identification of injury risk and prevention, effective rehabilitation strategies, rural ergonomics, and occupational biomechanics. Stephen now resides in Canada and works at the University of Saskatchewan.

Katrina Pōtiki Bryant (Ngāi Tahu, Kati Māmoe, Waitaha)

Katrina is a Professional Practice Fellow and Māori liaison at the School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago. Katrina is currently completing her Masters research.

Kelly Tikao (Ngāi Tahu)

Kelly is an experienced disability researcher and registered nurse, based at the Donald Beasley Institute, Dunedin. Kelly attained her Masters degree in 2013.


Hauā Mana Māori: Living unique and enriched lives.
A report for the Health Research Council and the Ministry of Health

Hale, L., Potiki Bryant, K., Ward, A. L., Falloon, A., Montgomery, A., Mirfin-Veitch, B., Tikao, K., & Milosavljevic, S. (2018). Organisational views on health care access for Hauā (disabled) Māori in Murihiku (Southland), Aotearoa New Zealand: A mixed methods approach. <em>New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy, 46(2), 51-66. doi: 10.15619/NZJP/46.2.03

Katrina Potiki Bryant, K.P, Hale, L., Tikao, K., Milosavljevic, S., Wright-Tawha, T., Ward, A.L., and Mirfin-Veitch, B. (2016) 'Art as a Tool for Disseminating Research Outcomes: The Hauā Mana Māori Project and Participatory Action Research in New Zealand' Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation Link to article

Further information

For further information please email Professor Leigh Hale

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