December 22, 2021

Chatham Islands Wellbeing Study

Moriori hunau (whānau) welcome members of the WRS team at Kōpinga Marae in April 2021.
Chatham Islands Wellbeing Study
Moriori hunau (whānau) welcome members of the WRS team at Kōpinga Marae in April 2021.

Lead researcher:

Dr Amohia Boulton

Other Whakauae researchers:

Lynley Cvitanovic

Utiku Potaka

Dr Tanya Allport

Tom Johnson

Independent research team members:

Teresa Taylor


In 2019 Whakauae were approached by Te Puni Kōkiri regarding the possibility of undertaking some research into the wellbeing needs of residents of the Chatham Islands. The aim of the study was to explore the self-identified wellbeing needs of the Islands’ population. It was expected that study findings would be used to advocate for more sustainable and longer-term targeted funding which better addresses whānau/hunau needs.

The objectives of this kaupapa Māori project are to:

  • Describe whānau assessments of current whānau wellbeing;
  • Document the self-identified and unaddressed wellbeing needs of whānau;
  • Identify the needs that can potentially be supported by agencies and services outside of the whānau;
  • Identify challenges associated with adequately supporting unaddressed wellbeing needs; and,
  • Draw on study findings and a shared analysis to propose recommendations for service solutions with the greatest potential to enhance whānau wellbeing.


Whakauae were first approached to conduct the research in late 2019, and contracted with local provider, Ha O Te Ora Wharekauri Trust Community Services, to commence the work in early 2020. However, just prior to the team’s first scheduled visit to the island in March 2020, the entire country was put into lockdown due to Covid-19 reaching Aotearoa. The uncertainties associated with Covid-19 severely delayed the start of the project – indeed the team’s first physical visit to the island did not occur until early April 2021. At that time the team undertook whakawhanaungatanga and a first round of face-to-face individual and group interviews. A second visit to the Island occurred in June 2021 when the research team continued interviews and held a series of wānanga with community members and representatives from key organisations.

Recently with the spread of Covid-19 throughout the community, and the subsequent risks associated with the more contagious Delta variant, the team’s ability to travel to the island has been impacted. Thus the third in a series of planned face-to-face visit to the Island has been postponed until 2022. The third visit is intended to be part of “sense-making” for the project findings, to present the analysis undertaken by the research team in late November 2021. The team at Whakauae are now looking forward to a more settled period in early 2022, so that we can return to the island and engage in the sense-making phase. At this time we will seek feedback from the community and project participants on key findings and recommendations, and explore the possible ways to ensure the uptake of these findings within specific systems/sectors responsible for the wellbeing of whānau/hunau on the Chatham Islands.

Go Back