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About us

Māori infants have an added burden of disability and death. They are more likely to die or to be admitted to hospital with respiratory illnesses and less likely to be able to access vaccination in a timely manner. Barriers to accessing appropriate care for pregnant Māori women under the age of twenty and their infants can contribute to significant harm. To improve health outcomes for Māori infants, it is essential to address the structural determinants of health for the mother and infant as well as their health and wellbeing needs.

This research project aims to find out about the range of barriers that pregnant Māori women under the age of 20 years encounter on their journey through pregnancy and the first year of life of their infant. This information will also be used in the creation of an evidence-based intervention/s to address these disparities.


  1. To understand the circumstances and range of needs of pregnant Māori women <20 and their infants during their journey through the health system.
  2. To examine both the barriers to, and facilitators of, appropriate health care and wellness for pregnant Māori women <20 and their infants.
  3. To assess the potential impact of legislative, regulatory, funding and social policy on maternal and infant health.

To use this evidence, in combination with the results from the cohort study (see below), to develop interventions based on whānau ora to improve maternal and infant health outcomes.

Case studies will be conducted in Wellington and Hawkes Bay. At each site a total of 20 Māori women <20 will be recruited, 10 mothers-to-be (5 at 12 weeks pregnant and 5 at 24 weeks) and 10 mothers (5 with 3 month old infants and 5 with 6 month old infants). They will all be interviewed at least twice, and some women up to five times over the first year of their infants life.

This study is being undertaken in conjunction with a cohort study (funded by HRC) that is assessing the differences in maternal and infant outcomes for Māori and non-Māori. The cohort study uses routinely collected ten year hospital data from national and local data bases matched with immunisation data, hospitalisation for respiratory illness and other outcomes for mothers and infants. These two projects will together provide a comprehensive picture of access to health care for pregnant Māori women <20 and their infants which will then be used to develop interventions.


Funded by Te Kaunihera Rangahau Hauora o Aotearoa (the Health Research Council of New Zealand).

Our people

University of Otago

Other organisations

Contact is

Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare
Department of Public Health
University of Otago, Wellington
PO Box 7343
Wellington South 6242
New Zealand
Tel +64 4 385 5924
Fax +64 4 389 5319

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