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Latest News

Rethinking Social Work in Africa.

From left to right Dorothee Holscher, Secretary of ASASWEI; Dr Gidraph Wairere, President of ASSWA and Prof Adrian Van Breda, President of ASASWEI, both Co-Chairs of the conference; Dr Amohia Boulton; and Prof Vimla Nadkarni, Keynote Speaker.


An international social work conference in Johannesburg, South Africa recently resounded to the sounds of the korimako (bellbird), as Dr Amohia Boulton delivered a key note address entitled Decolonising Ethics: considerations of power, politics and privilege in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Referring to the metaphoric waiata “Hutia te rito”, Dr Boulton evoked the sounds and sense of a NZ forest for conference participants as she explored concepts such as whanaungatanga; awhi, tautoko, manaakitanga, kotahitanga, and rangatiratanga (amongst others) and the implications these concepts have for policy and law-making in New Zealand particularly as they relate to the care and protection of tamariki Māori.

The conference was jointly hosted by a range organisations representing practising social workers, policy makers, social work educators, academics and students alike. Whilst the bulk of participants hailed from South Africa, 18 other nations were also represented at the conference, from as far afield as Scotland and India, as well as many of the other African countries. The organisations who hosted the three-day conference included the Association of South African Social Work Education Institutions (ASASWEI); the Association of Schools of Social Work in Africa (ASSWSA); the National Association of Social Workers South Africa (NASWSA) and the Department of Social Development: South Africa (DSD).

In addition to providing a keynote address, Dr Boulton also participated in a panel discussion with two social work educators and academics, Dr Dorothee Holscher (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban) and Prof Vivienne Bozalek (University of Western Cape, Capetown), extending the ideas from the keynote in a more intimate setting. The panel presentation workshopped the question

“Does a decolonised profession still need a code of ethics?” with the resounding conclusion of the participants being that social work and social workers needed to engage with the debate regarding decolonisation of the profession and what a decolonised profession might look like for South Africa.

Conference participants certainly found value in the perspectives Dr Boulton shared regarding Māori and colonisation, with many participants commenting that their thinking and future practice will be informed by the brief glimpse they have had into the experiences of another colonised people. Dr Boulton meanwhile also learnt much of South Africa’s history of colonisation, of Apartheid and of the complexity that characterises South African society and polity. Amohia noted the similarities which unite all indigenous peoples, but also the stark differences between the two countries given their distinct colonial history. Dr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s legacy is still very much alive in South Africa as the country grapples with its post-colonial, post-apartheid identity.


Australasian Evaluation Society (AES) Conference 2017

STEPS team members Sharon Clarke and Amohia Boulton flanked by AES colleagues, Dr Bronwyn Rossignh and Emma Williams

Dr Amohia Boulton has attended the 2017 AES Conference in September where she had roles both as a presenter and a Board member.

Assoc. Prof. Margaret Cargo, CeRAPH, Health Research Institute, University of Canberra

Assoc. Prof. Margaret Cargo, CeRAPH, Health Research Institute, University of Canberra

Amohia, along with colleagues Associate Professor Margaret Cargo (University of Canberra), Dr Jenni Judd (Central Queensland University) and Sharon Clarke (SA Health), attended the conference to present back the preliminary analysis of data collected as part of the STEPS (STrengthening Evaluation Practices and Strategies in Indigenous settings in Australia and New Zealand) Project. This trans-Tasman study has the ultimate goal of identifying actions that can be taken by organisations, such as the AES, to strengthen the way evaluation, in Indigenous settings, is undertaken in Australia and New Zealand.

In addition to a short paper reporting preliminary results, study team members who attended the conference also had the opportunity to collect data from a willing group of evaluators in a workshop held on the first day. We are very thankful to those who were interested in participating in this data collection exercise.

While at the conference Amohia completed her final duties as an Indigenous Board member of the AES. This year, Amohia stepped down from the Board, in preparation for her sabbatical in 2018. In reflecting on her past four years of work she noted: “It is not without a sense of sadness I leave the Board however, I also leave with a great sense of pride in what we have achieved. Amongst other things, we have enacted a new constitution which recognises Indigenous people; our Board now must contain at least two Indigenous Board members; we are drafting our first Reconciliation Plan; and one of our strategic priorities for 2016-2019 addresses cultural competency. I leave knowing this committed and enthusiastic Board will continue to work towards the advancement of Indigenous evaluators in Australia, New Zealand and across the Pacific region”.

While in Canberra, Amohia also took the opportunity of visiting Associate Professor Margaret Cargo at the Centre for Research and Action in Public Health at the University of Canberra. Headed by Professor Rachel Davey, and part of the Health Research Institute at the University of Canberra, the Centre undertakes health services research and evaluation; research into the prevention of non-communicable disease and healthy and sustainable urban communities; as well as work in modelling the burden of disease. Whakauae are investigating how we can collaborate on work into the future with staff at the Centre.

In 2018, the AES Conference will be held in Launceston, Tasmania. The theme of the conference is “transformations” and Whakauae staff look forward to disseminating their evaluation findings and novel approaches to Indigenous evaluation. See the conference website for more details.


AES Conference supports Indigenous participation.

Kiri Parata with Indigenous AES Board members Dr Amohia Boulton, Sharon Clarke and Doyen Radcliffe and fellow support grant recipients from Australasia at the Gala Awards Dinner in Canberra, September 2017.

In September 2017 Kiri Parata, who works as an independent community researcher and evaluator attended the AES17 International Evaluation Conference in Canberra, Australia. Kiri has worked on a number of research and evaluation projects alongside our team here at Whakauae as a subcontractor. Kiri was grateful to Whakauae for encouraging her to apply for a support grant to attend. Along with 11 other emerging indigenous evaluators Kiri was sponsored to attend the 3 day conference that also offered two additional days of workshops.

"It was a great learning and networking opportunity for me and gave me validation for the methods we adopt here in Aoteraoa when working for better outcomes with whānau Māori. I enjoyed sharing our experiences, particularly what we know works well with our people". 


Sharing minds and hearts; reflecting on an international student exchange.

Valdine engaged with the team in  a photography session with Leigh Mitchell Anyon

Valdine Flaming a Metis woman from Thompson, Northern Manitoba was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship (QES), through a Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) programme. Through the scholarship, she was able to take up a three-month postgraduate student placement with Whakauae finishing in August 2017.

Whakauae hosted Valdine as part of a commitment to building indigenous research capacity and supporting international collaborations. As members of the Partners for Engagement and Knowledge Exchange (PEKES) programme in Manitoba we were invited to become a mentor organisation for the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship (QES) scholarship programme. Valdine was our first student placement.

During her three-month placement, Valdine primarily worked with the Whakauae team on their HRC-funded research project, Preventing Chronic Conditions (PCC): Learnings from Participatory Research with Māori. Her role included examining Indigenous chronic disease prevention practices in both Canada and New Zealand, updating the literature review already conducted by the research team and conducting a review of recent Canadian literature around Indigenous models of chronic condition prevention.

In her last week with us we asked her to reflect on her time with us. The following are snippets from that conversation reproduced with her permission.   

My three months at Whakauae has flown by. Originally I intended to just learn more about how Māori prevent chronic conditions. As a Metis from northern Manitoba – poor health seems unavoidable for many of us. Blood quantum divides my extended family from each other while we survive poverty, intergenerational trauma and a legacy of shame. We survive our realities and chronic conditions are a side note.

Coming to Aotearoa and my time with the team at Whakauae has made me feel safe and grounded in a way I have never felt at home. Māori are so friendly and welcoming and I learned a lot about being Metis by being with them and talking about my experiences at home in Canada. I have the teachings and stories inside of me, I just have to listen and accept myself. Thank you Whakauae whānau for showing me that. Your acceptance and hospitality has changed my life.

What did you learn from being part of the PCC project?

I learned about Whānau Ora – which is something that I didn’t know about before coming to Aotearoa. Before I joined Whakauae, I just thought ‘wow those Māori really have it figured out. I wonder what they’re doing right’ and now I understand that Metis and Māori face very similar issues but the historical contexts are different.

What surprised you in Aotearoa?

I honestly thought Whakauae was much bigger.  From the website and outputs, I thought the team was larger. I’ve also been disappointed to learn and see how much racism is alive and well in New Zealand.  On the other hand, the fact that the New Zealand government is engaging in treaty tribunals with Māori is something I struggled to comprehend when I first moved here. I’ve never seen a settler government acknowledge a treaty in this way.

What was a highlight of your visit?

I love the office environment, everyone is so accepting. I also really appreciated attending a Treaty tribunal hearing and especially being in Taupō on the same weekend that Ngāti Tuwharetoa settled with the Crown.  That’s a huge deal to me.

Heather, Don, Lynley Stacy, Valdine and Amohia during Valdines Powhiri
Heather, Don, Lynley Stacy, Valdine and Amohia during Valdines Powhiri

AUT Whakamua Research Seminar - Mauri Oho Mauri Ora - A hikoi of transformation

Whakauae Director, Researcher, and Adjunct Professor Dr Amohia Boulton to give presentation at the AUT South Campus, along with other esteemed AUT academics, as part of the Taupua Waiora Centre for Māori Health Research Global Goals Series.


Attendance is free, parking is available and light refreshments will be offered. Please see the attached panui for more details and RSVP information.


Aut Whakamua Research Seminar

Development of a Reconciliation Action Plan for the Australasian Evaluation Society

AES Board members workshop elements of the RAP vision at their meeting on 22 July 2017


At the July Australasian Evaluation Society Board meeting, Amohia Boulton along with her Aboriginal Board colleagues Sharon Clarke and Doyen Radcliffe, led the board through the process of developing a Reconciliation Action plan (RAP) for the AES Board.

A Reconciliation Action Plan or RAP is a business plan that documents what an organisation commits to do, to contribute to reconciliation, in Australia. A RAP enables organisations to commit to implementing and measuring practical actions that build respectful relationships and create opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

There are four different RAPs within the overall Reconciliation programme: Reflect; Innovate; Stretch and Elevate. As this is the first Reconciliation Action Plan that the AES has ever developed, the Society has started at the very beginning by developing a “Reflect” RAP.

Board members have workshopped elements of the RAP over a number of Board meetings and at the July meeting, in a collaborative process came up with the vision for the AES: 

Australia respects, recognises and values Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ history, past and present, their sovereignty, and their right to determine their own future.  The impact of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is understood, and owned, by all of us. Through a process of healing, we come together as one to build a better future.


From this point, the Board will complete the final elements of the RAP and send it to Reconciliation Australia ( for review and comment. Once these comments have been incorporated the RAP will be sent out to Society members with a view to the Society adopting and launching the RAP at the next AES conference in September 2019.


A ?wordle? developed from the workshopping of the RAP vision statement
A “wordle” developed from the workshopping of the RAP vision statement.

Māori-led research shows strong leadership for Smokefree outdoor policies

Research conducted by Whakauae Research for Māori Health and Development (Whanganui), and led by Dr Heather Gifford, highlights Māori public health workers and advocates attitudes towards Smokefree Outdoor Policies (SFOP). Māori leadership in creating smokefree outdoor environments was marked by the emergence, in the 1990s, of the auahi kore marae movement. While more needs to be done to ensure all marae are smokefree, the remaining challenges have not stopped Māori seeking to make other areas, of particular relevance to Māori, smokefree. Sites of cultural significance and sports and cultural events are now accepted by many as being auahi kore with Māori netball, Kapa Haka and Matariki identified in the research as being flagships for promoting smokefree outdoors. Māori leadership driving this kaupapa was identified as largely coming from the Māori health provider sector, with a strong call to strengthen iwi leadership. Messages clearly need to be positive, involve smokers and focus on protecting future generations.

“This research supports an approach to Smokefree Outdoor Policies which inspires whānau with a positive message” says Zoe Hawke, General Manager for the National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service at Hāpai Te Hauora. “The sector can take the feedback from this study and use it to inform effective community activation among Māori in support of Smokefree Outdoor Policies. For example, we encourage a tamariki-first perspective on this issue. We understand that some smokers feel individually targeted and marginalised by smoke free messages, but even the most die-hard of smokers would agree that protecting our tamariki is a positive thing.” An ex-smoker herself, Hawke admits the potential impact of second-hand smoke on her own children was a major driver in her journey to quitting. “Protecting our tamariki by ensuring the environments they live, work and play in are free from harmful second-hand smoke just makes good sense.”

Read the full report here.




Zoe Hawke

Hapai Te Hauora

General Manager

National Tobacco Control

029 279 4543


Dr. Heather Gifford

Whakauae Limited


021 243 7409


Alternative contact:

Emma Espiner

Hapai Te Hauora

National Communications Lead

021 151 488



About Hāpai Te Hauora

Hāpai are national leaders in Public Health, Policy and Advocacy, Research and Evaluation and Infrastructure services. Hāpai provide a strategic focus that is underpinned by evidence based research for the advancement of health and wellbeing for communities.

The Mission of Hāpai is to increase opportunities for Māori, and all others to enjoy good health and to be sustained by healthy environments. One of their core areas of work is Tobacco Control, where Hāpai facilitate engagement between a wide range of policy makers/decision makers/influencers/communities to progress Smokefree 2025.

Visit their website here



Adjunct Professor announced

Whakauae Director Dr Amohia Boulton


Professor Denise Wilson, of the Auckland University of Technology (AUT), recently announced the appointment of Whakauae Director, Dr Amohia Boulton to the Faculty of Health & Environmental Sciences (and Taupua Waiora) as an Adjunct Professor.

The Faculty currently has several Adjunct Professors who hold positions within other universities or research institutes both in New Zealand and around the world. The role of Adjunct Professor contributes positively to the research climate of the Faculty. 

We are pleased that Amohia’s expertise and experience has been recognised and this forms a basis for us to build closer ties with our academic partners at the Auckland University of Technology.

Amohia will be part of Faculty activities, when she is able, with the Adjunct Professor role providing an opportunity to strengthen relationships between AUT and Whakauae Research for Māori Health and Development.

Whakauae awarded research project funding by HRC

D3: Data, decision-making and development: Using data to improve health outcomes

In July 2017, the Health Research Council awarded a three year research project grant to Whakauae. The D3: Data, decision making and development: using data to improve health outcomes will explore how routinely gathered data can be used to stimulate improvements in health outcomes for Māori.

The research team led by Dr Boulton will partner with three DHB case study sites and use a kaupapa Māori approach to understand the way data is collected, used and interpreted. The facilitators and barriers to using data for service planning will be reviewed. The translational element of the research will include communicating successful strategies to the wider health sector.

Te Principal Investigator on the project, Dr Boulton observed the study has the potential to highlight the processes; resources; skills; and time needed to transform DHB level data into considered decisions and concrete actions that improve hauora Māori. We are especially looking forward to working in partnership with Associate Professor Tim Tenbensel and Honorary Academic Dr Pat Neuwelt both of the University of Auckland.

Whakauae awards 2017 Pae Tawhiti Scholarships

From left: Emma Rawson with Robbie Richardson, Barbara Thomason and Director, Dr Amohia Boulton
at Rātā Marae on 24 June 2017. 


Whakauae Director, Dr Amohia Boulton awarded two Pae Tawhiti scholarships for the 2017 academic year during Ngāti Hauiti’s Hui a Tau held on Saturday 24 June 2017 at Rātā Marae. Whakauae’s Pae Tawhiti scholarship programme provides funding to Māori students, at Masters or PhD level, who have a proven record of academic excellence; demonstrated a commitment to te ao Māori; and are enrolled in a research degree with a focus on Hauora Māori. Doctoral student, Robbie Richardson and Masters student, Barbara Thomason were this year’s recipients of scholarships to support their postgraduate research studies.

Robbie is of Ngāti Hauiti, Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Tuwharetoa and has a long history of engagement in health as a rongoā practitioner as well as in fields including Māori health workforce development, public health and mental health. She is closely involved with supporting Ngāti Hauiti’s Tuku Iho Treaty claims work and is also a member of both the Mana Whenua Hauora Iwi Relationship Board at MidCentral DHB and of the Central PHO Board. Robbie this year began doctoral study in Māori Development and Advancement through Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and is currently completing a series of papers prior to beginning her dissertation.

Masters scholarship recipient, Barbara Thomason is also of Ngāti Hauiti. Barbara has been closely involved in iwi affairs, as well as with wider Mokai Patea activities, for many years. A trained nurse, she has spent much of her later career in Rangitīkei primary and secondary schools supporting and teaching Māori students in a range of capacities. Barbara is currently working on her Master’s research examining the intergeneration transmission of knowledge: Ahikāroa.

Both scholarship recipients addressed the iwi during the Hui a Tau acknowledging their awards and providing an outline of their research interests and aspirations. Also present was the 2016 inaugural Pae Tawhiti scholarship recipient, Masters student Emma Rawson. Emma is of Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Raukawa. In her address, she described her progress in researching institutional racism in human resource practices in public health units. She acknowledged the advantages that had accrued as an outcome of being awarded the Pae Tawhiti scholarship including new doors being opened in advancing her career as a Māori health researcher supporting improved Māori health outcomes. Emma is completing her Master’s degree at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) through the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences. 

Whakauae extends congratulations to the 2017 scholarship recipients. We look forward to supporting them both in their work contributing towards attaining equity in health outcomes for Māori.

Whakauae Researchers attend Research Ethics Symposium

Associate Professor Martin TolichOn 28 June 2017, University of Otago Associate Professor Martin Tolich facilitated a Research Ethics Symposium at the Auckland AUT South Campus. Martin has played a key role in the recent establishment of the New Zealand Ethics Committee (NZEC). The NZEC provides independent ethics review for projects carried out in New Zealand outside the universities and the health sector.  The purpose of the Research Ethics Symposium was to provide a forum to present and discuss current ethical issues.

The Symposium attracted some 20 delegates, mainly from the Auckland area, including University ethics committee members, local government researchers, a Pasifika health and social services provider, academics and researchers. Whakauae researchers Gill Potaka-Osborne and Lynley Cvitanovic took part in the Symposium. A highlight of the day for them was meeting with members of ethics committees including their research colleague Dr Lesley Batten, Chair of Massey University’s Southern A Human Ethics Committee.

Two invited speakers presented during the Symposium. The first speaker, Dr Gary Allen, a Senior Consultant with the Australasian Human Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS) and senior policy officer at Griffith University (Queensland) explored the ethical challenges that social media presents for researchers. His presentation was entitled:

If research ’only’ involves the analysis of comments/posts/feeds on social media is it human research? Does it require review?

Dr Allen provided concrete examples such as The Ashley Maddison and OK Cupid cases and the ethical challenges they presented. His presentation included discussion around what constitutes valid consent in social media forums particularly as the current generation are more accepting of media parameters. 

The second speaker, Dr Dònal O’Mathùna, is a Senior Lecturer in Ethics, Decision-making & Evidence, School of Nursing and Human Sciences, Dublin City University. His presentation Disaster Ethics: Issues for Researchers and participants focused on research ethics and disasters. His kōrero around vulnerable populations resonated with our own Indigenous research values. He presented a framework which he considered was a benchmark of ethical research:

  1. Collaborative partnership (right from the beginning)
  2. Social value (there must be some benefit)
  3. Scientific validity (study design, feasible, funding available)
  4. Fair subject selection
  5. Favourable risk-benefit ratio (reciprocity benefits)
  6. Informed consent
  7. Respect for participants and communities
  8. Independent review.

Both presentations were relevant for us in our current research environment and continue to help us reflect on ethics in our own research practice.

2017 Māori Public Health Symposium

Māori Public Health Symposium hosts Emma Rawson and Adrian Te Patu look forward to an exciting day of presentations.


On June 19, the Public Health Association of New Zealand held a symposium on Māori Public Health in Auckland.  The theme of the symposium was Māori Public Health: Business - Innovation – Health, and speakers were asked to highlight aspects of innovation in their respective businesses and the links to improving and transforming the lives of Māori. The symposium was designed to invite creative conversation about the solutions designed in public health, embracing business, Māori development and new ways of funding to have more freedom in defining the future of Māori public health.

A diverse line-up of invited speakers presented on the day, from young entrepreneurs in the health sector, to more experienced business people and public health practitioners. Symposium participants were then asked to workshop a series of questions posed by the speakers. Dr Amohia Boulton was also one of the guest speakers. Amohia spoke about the origins of Whakauae Research; what drives us as an iwi-based research centre; how our research, our approach and our utilisation of research has an effect on hauora Māori; and the challenges we face in our work. For the workshop component of the day Amohia asked participants to consider how they, as public health practitioners and policymakers use research in their work creating new opportunities and advances in public health and as they advocate for improvements Maori health outcomes; and how and in what ways can we, as researchers can best support that work. The information that was workshopped on the day will be collated and fed back to the participants and wider Public Health Association Membership.

The symposium attracted some 70 delegates, mainly from the Auckland, area who represented DHBs, Māori health providers, academics and researchers. A highlight of the day for Amohia was the opportunity to catch up with many of the stalwarts of Māori public health who had either organised the event or attended to support and present including Keriata Stuart, Dr Lorna Dyall, Associate Professor Marewa Glover, Megan Tunks, Michelle Mako and Chris Webber; and the opportunity to meet new colleagues Zoe Hawke and Steph Erick of Hāpai Te Hauora.

A copy of the presentation can be found here.


Care and Protection of Māori Children at World Congress

From left to right, Lawyer and Youth Advocate Ophir Cassidy; Lawyer for Child Tania Williams-Blyth; and Research Centre Director, Dr Amohia Boulton at the Congress.


Ms Tania Williams-Blyth and Dr Amohia Boulton have recently returned from the 7th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights, which was held in Dublin Ireland from the 4th to the 7th of June 2017.  They presented a paper entitled E Tipu, E Rea: The Care and Protection of Māori Children, which was based on the research Tania undertook as part of a Lottery Health Research Grant in 2015.

While in Dublin the two met with, and heard presentations by, a number of New Zealand-based colleagues undertaking research in various aspects of child and family law. Over 600 delegates from around the world took part in the four-day Congress. Highlights for the pair included participating in a pre-conference workshop for PhD students; the calibre of the international keynotes, many of whom spoke about the myriad international conventions and frameworks that support child and family rights; and networking with other researchers and academics involved in issues to do with protection of children from as far afield as Jamaica and Indonesia. After the conference Ms Williams-Blyth was fortunate to meet with members of the Roma and Traveller communities; peoples indigenous to Ireland and Europe.

If you are interested in the presentation that Tania and Amohia gave at the Congress, a copy of the presentation can be found here. The written paper that was provided to the Congress will be submitted to a relevant journal for publication in the near future.


Welcome for Red River Metis postgraduate student

Valdine Flaming (far right) during the pōwhiri at Rātā Marae, Saturday 27 May 2017.


Valdine Flaming of Thompson, Northern Manitoba arrived in Whanganui on 24 May 2017 to begin a three-month postgraduate student placement with Whakauae. A pōwhiri for Valdine was held at Rātā Marae shortly after her arrival in Whanganui.

A member of the Manitoba Metis originating in the Red River, Valdine is completing her Master of Arts degree in Disability Studies through the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. Her student placement is being hosted by Whakauae, in an agreement with the University of Manitoba. Valdine has been awarded a prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship (QES), through a Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) programme, to support her three-month study in New Zealand.

In addition to her postgraduate study, Valdine is Executive Officer and Advisor for Strategic Services and Development at the University College of the North in Thompson, Northern Manitoba. She brings with her to Whakauae a strong interest in the lived experience of Indigenous peoples with chronic illness and disability as well as significant experience as an activist with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Manitoba.

During her three-month placement, Valdine will primarily be working with the Whakauae team on their HRC-funded research project, Preventing Chronic Conditions (PCC): Learnings from Participatory Research with Māori. The aims of the research project are 1) to examine how the prevention (primary and secondary prevention) of chronic conditions is being modelled, practiced and measured in three Māori health service providers; 2) to define what short term outcomes are being achieved; and, 3) to enable naturalistic generalisations to be made to inform wider health service development.

Valdine’s role within the research team will be examining Indigenous chronic disease prevention practices in both Canada and New Zealand. She will update the (PCC) literature review already conducted by the team and additionally conduct a review of recent Canadian literature around Indigenous models of chronic condition prevention. The outcome will be a comparative analysis of chronic condition prevention models in Canada and New Zealand.

Whakauae Research welcomes Valdine and looks forward to working with her both during the coming three months and beyond.


Whakauae's Gill Potaka-Osborne Graduates

Gill Potaka-Osborne

Gill at her graduation with three of her eight mokopuna;
from left: Awanuiarangi Pirikahu-Tawhitapou, Taiana-Grace and Te Atarau Raupita.


In mid-May, Whakauae’s Gill Potaka-Osborne was conferred with her Postgraduate Diploma in Social Sector Evaluation Research (with Merit) following two years of intensive part-time study. The Postgraduate Diploma was awarded at Massey University’s Hui Whakahōnore Pōtaetanga Ākonga Māori held at the Regent Theatre in Broadway, Palmerston North. Members of Gill’s whānau were there to share in the celebrations together with her Whakauae colleagues. Gill was one of three graduates from Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi and among 24 Māori graduates from the University’s Te Kura Pūkenga Tangata College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Gill’s study towards the Postgraduate Diploma in Social Sector Evaluation Research has benefited hugely from, and been informed by, the evaluation work she has conducted over the past eight years. As a member of the wider Whakauae evaluation team, Gill has worked closely with a range of Māori health service providers and with Māori focussed programmes being delivered under the umbrella of organisations such as the Whanganui and Taranaki District Health Boards and Sport Whanganui. We wish Gill all the best with her future study goals. 


Release of the Tapuhi Tū Toa Audit Report

Tapuhi Tū Toa Intervention research lead, Dr Heather Gifford and auditor, Lynley Cvitanovic discuss the Audit Report recommendations.


Dr Heather Gifford has welcomed Whakauae’s recent release of the Tapuhi Tū Toa Audit Report. The Report covers the factors that contributed to the pilot Māori student nurses smoking cessation intervention gaining limited traction in targeted schools of nursing in 2016 and what may need to happen if the Intervention is to be successfully delivered in the future. The pilot Intervention model was developed by Whakauae, and its research partners, as an outcome of an HRC-funded study in 2014 - 2015. That research explored nurses smoking cessation attitudes and behaviours along with the impact of smoking on their professional identities as health workers.

The Implementation model was feasibility tested with nursing tauira, during Te Rūnanga New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation (NZNO) hui, who strongly supported implementation of the intervention. On the strength of these results, Whakauae funded the necessary intervention research to be carried out through targeted schools of nursing. “Understanding why the intervention failed to gain traction was a major concern for me as well as for those who had worked hard trying to make it happen” lead researcher, Dr Gifford explained.

Audit findings highlight that the model itself was widely supported by a range of stakeholders. The model incorporated components considered integral to supporting nursing tauira on a cessation journey. The audit evidence identifies that the primary barriers to implementation lie not within the model itself but in the realities of the schools of nursing delivery context. Whilst institutional barriers present as the primary impediment to the successful implementation of Tapuhi Tū Toa, the Research Team’s need to conclude the study by the end of 2016 also figures.

Findings highlight too the multiple, competing demands and stresses which students are juggling daily, often including study as well as whānau and paid work commitments, and the difficulties this posed for additionally participating in the Intervention study. The Research Team’s under-estimation of the challenges of working across sectors (research, health and tertiary education), especially when timeframes are tight and the complexities of the tertiary education environment are not adequately factored in, were also noted. For the already stretched staff in schools of nursing, facilitating the participation of tauira in the Tapuhi Tū Toa Intervention was not necessarily a priority.

The robust and intensive work undertaken by the Intervention Coordinator, who was contracted to get the Intervention ‘off the ground’ in six schools of nursing over the course of the year, was identified. She consistently demonstrated flexibility, resourcefulness and the willingness to seek and take the advice of the Research Team where appropriate. The universal view was that the work that the Coordinator had carried out, in difficult circumstances, could not be faulted.

Future successful facilitation of the Intervention in schools of nursing settings would mean better timing of delivery along with linking tauira participation to the gaining of credits towards completion of a formal assessment. Putting the Intervention ‘on the map’ for tertiary institutions and their tauira well in advance was also critical along with having a well-grounded working knowledge of how tertiary institutions operate, and of their operational contexts. Audit Report recommendations included that culturally appropriate alternative sites for implementation of the model, outside the boundaries of tertiary institution schools of nursing, be seriously considered.

At its recent final hui, the Research Advisory Group, which included both tertiary institution staff and Te Rūnanga (NZNO) representatives, endorsed the audit findings. Despite the work that remains to be done to successfully negotiate barriers to Intervention implementation, the Group expressed their continued confidence in the potential of the Intervention to make the necessary impact on Māori student nurses smoking rates. The hui concluded with Te Rūnanga representatives agreeing to investigate trialling the Intervention model, under the umbrella of their regional organisational structure in a targeted rohe, in 2018. This approach to implementing the model would bring together Māori nursing students from across several tertiary institutions bypassing some of the complexities of delivery within schools of nursing themselves.


The full Tapuhi Tū Toa Audit Report is now available here.


Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT)

Presenters at an indigenous symposium from the left; Dan Tautolo, Stephanie Erick, Raglan Maddox, Richard Edwards, Anaru Waa, Heather Gifford, Ray Lovett, Joanne D’Silva.


Report from Dr Heather Gifford after attending the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) Annual Conference, Florence, Italy, 8-11 March 2017.

I was very privileged to be able to participate in the SRNT conference this year in Florence. I joined a group of Aspire2025 researchers from Aotearoa including Pacific researchers, Stephanie Erick (now working with Hāpai Te Hauora) and Dr El-Shadan (Dan) Tuatolo (AUT), along with Anaru Waa, and Professors Richard Edwards and Janet Hoek from the University of Otago. Aotearoa was also represented by Professor Chris Bullen and Associate Professor Natalie Walker from the University of Auckland. Collectively a number of posters, symposia, key note addresses and oral presentations were delivered by this team of researchers together making a significant contribution to scientific debate on global tobacco control.

The conference stimulated my thinking around current issues such as the role of vaping, or e- cigarettes, and their contribution to harm minimisation as well as presenting the most current evidence on vaping from a number of perspectives. However, as important as these discussions were, what I really enjoyed was the more philosophical debates. These ranged from the role of incentivisation in quitting and the morality or otherwise of this, the role of government and legislation in achieving smokefree nation status and the counter arguments about free choice to topics such as the broader commitment of national treaties such as the FCTC to indigenous people. 

I was left feeling excited by the open and often vigorous debate that was held in small oral presentations where informal conversations erupted with experts from around the globe.  


Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) Annual Conference, Florence, Italy, 8-11 March 2017
Pre-Conference meeting with researchers associated with the SRNT Inequalities Network


Those with an interest in indigenous tobacco control met before the conference started as part of the inequalities network. This provided an opportunity to advance the agenda of indigenous tobacco control globally. A special thank you to Anaru Waa for facilitating this discussion and co-ordinating much of the indigenous networking and presentation that occurred at the conference. Meeting with partners from the International Tobacco Control research programme, as part of which ASPIRE2025 has two research projects (one directly focused on Māori tobacco control), was also an opportunity to advance discussions about the need to focus on indigenous tobacco control.   


Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) Annual Conference, Florence, Italy, 8-11 March 2017
Meeting of researchers working on the global ITC research programme. From the left; Anaru Waa, Anne  Quah, Geoff Fong, Stephanie Erick, David Thomas, Heather Gifford, Richard Edwards and Dan Tautolo.


One line of thinking that we will be progressing now we are back in Aotearoa is writing up how Māori tobacco control leadership continues to shape the tobacco end game solutions within Aotearoa. It is important to recognise the impact of the early leadership by Te Reo Marama and others to frame the tobacco issue as an industry generated problem and highlighting the role of colonisation in tobacco smoking; lobbying of the Māori politicians in efforts towards end game solutions and the role of Māori leadership in spearheading the smokefree2025 efforts for Aotearoa. While it is helpful to have a broader lobby group to advance tobacco control in this country, it is critical to acknowledge the role Māori tobacco control advocates have had and still have in generating the solutions for Māori tobacco smoking.   


Mōkai Pātea Waitangi Claims Hearings 2017

Mōkai Pātea Claims Trust Manager and former Whakauae Director, Richard Steedman with Gloria Toheriri, the Hearing Facilitator for the Mokai Patea Claims Trust hard at work on day five of the hearings.


The first round of substantive hearings into the Taihape rohe land claims took place at Rātā Marae over the week of 06 – 10 March 2017, hosted by Ngāti Hauiti. Along with Ngāti Hauiti there are another three iwi involved in the claims; Ngāi Te Ohuake, Ngāti Tamakōpiri and Ngāti Whitikaupeka. The four iwi are together represented by the Mōkai Pātea Waitangi Claims Trust. The claims, among the last major claims in the country left to settle, cover the area from the summit of the Desert Road down to Rātā, and from the summit of the Ruahine Range to west of the township of Taihape. The Waitangi Tribunal was represented at the Rātā Marae hearings by Judge Layne Harvey and a panel including Sir Douglas Kidd, Dr Angela Ballara and Dr Monty Soutar.

At the close of 2016 the third round of Ngā Kōrero Tuku Iho hearings, exploring the origins of local iwi and hapū as well as determining the parameters of their claims region was completed. Those initial hearings provided an opportunity for tangata whenua to share knowledge passed down by their tūpuna through oral histories setting the stage for the substantive hearings phase of the claims. The research phase of the inquiry has also now been completed along with the interlocutory process leading in to commencement of substantive hearings.

The substantive hearings week was a big one for local iwi and especially for hosts, Ngāti Hauiti. Whakauae, as Ngāti Hauiti’s owned and mandated Māori health research centre, was involved in supporting the week through maintaining a presence both in the kitchen and in the hearings audience to tautoko the Mōkai Pātea Waitangi Claims Trust kōrero. There was a strong presence from amongst all four iwi throughout the five days of hearings.

Many hundreds of meals were prepared in the kitchen at Rātā during the course of the week under the very able guidance of Aunty Erena Metekingi-Anson and cousin, Mina Bourke. The two women, together with other whānau, had begun their mahi over the weekend preceding the hearings. Whakauae then joined the team of ringawera contributing to the ongoing round of kai preparation and clean up culminating with hākari on Friday 10 March 2017.

There will be a number of other substantive hearings taking place later in 2017 to be hosted at various Mōkai Pātea marae. Whakauae looks forward to contributing to iwi support at these hearings.

He Manawa Whenua Conference, Hamilton, 5-8 March 2017

Leonie Pihama, on behalf of Tainui, hands over the mauri of the conference to Hawai’i


In a busy week for Whakauae, whilst some of the staff was supporting Ngāti Hauiti at week one of the Wai2180 - Taihape: Rangitikei ki Rangipo District Inquiry substantive hearings, others were presenting research at the He Manawa Whenua Indigenous Research Conference in Kirikiriroa. The theme of the four-day conference, hosted by Te Kotahi Research Institute, was Mana Motuhake (Indigenous Sovereignty) and therefore the conference showcased the great diversity of Indigenous thinking, scholarship and activism from Aotearoa and beyond.


Whakauae staff participated in three separate presentations. Rachel Brown presented with colleagues Bridgette Masters-Awatere (University of Waikato), and Donna Cormack (University of Otago), on the collaborative study Hospital transfers: whānau involvement in the healing equation project. This Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga-funded project seeks to understand how Māori are involved in care of, and decisions about, a whānau member, when that whānau member is transferred to a hospital outside of their home area. While only in its early stages, Rachel presented some preliminary findings from interviews with whānau, which identified a number of barriers that prevent whānau members from providing the support they would wish to their ill relatives. The team will conduct further interviews in order to gain a complete understanding of the issues facing whānau in this situation.


Gill Potaka Osborne conducted a roundtable discussion, ably supported by Maaki Tuatini and Roberta Williams from Raetihi Pah, on the Te Puawai o Te Ahi Kaa project. Gill outlined the project and the positive outcomes that were becoming evident now this Ministry-funded innovation initiative is in its third and final year. Whilst there have been a number of positive developments arising as a consequence of this project, one of the most exciting is that all the men who had participated in this initiative had become smoke-free. Gill commented that the challenge now is to secure further funding so that the initiative can become sustainable in the long-term, and continue to build on its successes.


He Manawa Whenua Conference, Hamilton, 5-8 March 2017
Gill Potaka Osborne presents the evaluation of Te Puawai o te Ahi Kaa


Finally, Amohia Boulton and Tania Williams-Blyth presented a paper entitled E tipu E rea: The Care & Protection of Māori Children. Based on the research conducted by Tania through Whakauae in 2015-2016, the presenters outlined the research findings and discussed an intervention that arose directly from the research. The intervention, Mokopuna Ora, is currently being trialled by Waikato-Tainui in partnership with Child Youth and Family Services. The intervention aims to reduce the number of Waikato-Tainui mokopuna entering state care; increase the number of mokopuna already in state care being placed within whānau, hapū and iwi; support whānau into the role of primary caregiver; and, connect mokopuna to their tribal identity.


Other highlights of the conference included some truly inspirational keynote speakers, who covered topics as diverse the occupation of Mauna Kea in Hawai’i and the tangata whenua’s fight to prevent the construction of a telescope on their sacred maunga; through to presenters who questioned our progress towards self determination as Māori and as Indigenous peoples; and how we translate critical concepts such as mana motuhake into meaningful strategies for our everyday lives?


The conference concluded with a ceremony that handed over the Mauri of the conference to a delegation from Hawai’i, who will host the next He Manawa Whenua in 2018.

"Sell out" presentation to the University of Otago

Whakauae’s Dr Heather Gifford recently took up an invitation from the Department of Public Health, University of Otago to present at an open seminar on its Wellington campus in Newtown. Heather used the seminar opportunity to explore the challenges and learnings resulting from a 2016 aborted attempt to pilot and evaluate a tobacco cessation intervention with Māori student nurses. The seminar attracted wide attention perhaps due in part to it being billed as a ‘no holds barred’ exploration of how ‘a good intervention’ can end up ‘going bad’ despite the best efforts of many.

The seminar covered Heather and the research team’s experience as they grappled with the multiple demands of translating their recent research results into ‘action on the ground’. Between 2012 and 2015 Whakauae, with research partners NZNO and Taupua Waiora Centre for Māori Health Research (AUT), carried out HRC funded research with Māori nurses who smoke. That research explored nurses smoking cessation attitudes and behaviours along with the impact of smoking on their professional identities as health workers. It included an NZNO led survey of 410 nurses and nursing students along with in depth interviews with 100 nurses and student nurses.

Results of the 2012 – 2015 research highlighted that it was not unusual for nurses who smoke to be unfamiliar with cessation interventions and / or with the evidence supporting successful smoking cessation. Results additionally pointed to the need to develop a smoking cessation intervention specifically targeting Māori nursing students given that their smoking rate was higher than that of nurses. It emerged that student nurses were ‘primed’ for quitting due to being in formal learning settings where the role of the health professional in promoting and maintaining health were a focus. That experience highlighted the contradictions around being a smoker as well as being a health professional for many students.  

In the concluding phase of the 2012 – 2015 study, a Māori student nurses smoking cessation intervention model was developed by the research team and feasibility tested with audiences including Māori student nurses themselves. The results of feasibility testing strongly supported the pilot implementation and evaluation of the model.

On the strength of these results, Whakauae funded the necessary intervention research to be carried out through targeted schools of nursing. A research advisory group, which included members of the original research partnership along with a number of cessation experts, was set up. A highly experienced facilitator and Māori cessation expert was appointed to lead the intervention and an evaluation was commissioned. Heather’s seminar described the progress of the pilot leading up to the decision, by the research leads, to ‘call it quits’ in October 2016. It concluded with early results of the audit Whakauae is carrying out to establish what the ‘tipping points’ were in implementing the intervention.

Leading the field are the research team’s under-estimation of the challenges of working across sectors (research, health and tertiary education), especially when timeframes are tight, together with understanding the complexities of the tertiary education environment and the multiple, competing demands and stresses which students are juggling on a daily basis. Though there is work still to be done on negotiating the barriers to successfully implementing the intervention, Heather and the research team are confident that it has the potential to make the necessary impact on Māori student nurses smoking rates. She issued an invitation to the wider research community to consider taking up the challenge to moving the intervention on to the next level. Heather’s power point seminar presentation is available on our publications page and a recording of the seminar is available on request.