May 2, 2022

Seven Directions Indigenous Public Health Institute Partnership

Seven Directions Indigenous Public Health Institute Partnership

Lead Researchers:

Dr Amohia Boulton

Dr Tanya Allport

Gathering Grounds

Centring Community and Accountability: Whakauae Māori Health Research and Pascua Yaqui Tribe

The evolving Covid-19 pandemic has re-focused attention on the role of public health globally. This webinar, held as part of the ongoing 7-Directions Indigenous Public Health Institute’s “Gathering Grounds” series, looked at the experiences and responses of Indigenous communities in Aotearoa and the US to the worldwide outbreak.

Dr. Heather Gifford (Ngāti Hauiti and Te Ātihaunui ā Pāpārangi) and Amohia Boulton (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi te Rangi, Ngāti Pukenga, Ngāti Mutunga and Te āti Awa o te Waka a Māui) from Whakauae Research Services Ltd, and Raquel Aviles, MHI (Yaqui) from the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, discussed experiences of centring community and applying Indigenous health principles in response to the pandemic.

The webinar highlighted the need to define and empower Indigenous public health practices, and tackled questions around the interface of Indigenous/Mātauranga Māori knowledge and mainstream public health concepts in relation to the lockdowns and vaccination roll-outs in Aotearoa and the US.

Heather Gifford and Amohia Boulton examined both the lack of inclusion of Māori expert knowledge and leadership in the New Zealand Government’s Covid-19 response, and the way in which public health messaging failed to take account of existing inequities and Māori needs. Raquel Aviles presentation on the Pascua Yaqui of Arizona raised comparable issues and looked at how Indigenous leadership was able to come together to offer pro-active community support during their lockdowns, and appropriate public health messaging around Covid-19 vaccinations.  

The webinar further highlighted how, by applying Indigenous/Mātauranga Māori public health knowledge and collaborations across Iwi/tribes and regional boundaries, the needs of whānau, hapū, Iwi and Indigenous communities can be prioritised, especially during times when the core challenge is in how Indigenous leaders can continue to practice from within their cultural values and principles while keeping communities safe during a public health emergency.  

The webinar presenters all reiterated that Indigenous public health practice is an understanding of belonging and connectedness, and that Indigenous voices are crucial for re-framing public health approaches to deal with the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 for all communities.

You can access a free recording of the webinar here.

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