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New fellowship awarded to top Maori health researchers: Dr Leonie Pihama Dr Mihi Ratima

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Two of New Zealand’s leading Māori health researchers have been awarded the inaugural Ngā Pou Senior Fellowship worth $300,000 each from the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC).

Fellowship recipients Dr Leonie Pihama (Te Ātiawa, Ngā Māhanga a Tairi, Ngāti Māhanga), Director of the Te Kotahi Research Institute at the University of Waikato, and Dr Mihi Ratima (Whakatōhea, Ngāti Awa) from Te Pou Tiringa Incorporated in New Plymouth, both have 20-plus years’ experience in Māori health research.

The Ngā Pou Senior Fellowship is a new HRC award developed to advance the work of mid-career to senior level researchers with a proven track record and prominent level of leadership in an area of Māori health.

Dr Pihama is developing a cultural framework for understanding emotions from a Māori perspective. She will use this information to help Māori health providers working in the area of family violence prevention and intervention.

“Indigenous research highlights emotional well-being as essential to well-being and healthy relationships. As high levels of family violence are experienced within our communities, research on cultural expressions of emotions provides much needed baseline knowledge for those working to transform those experiences,” says Dr Pihama.

Based in Taranaki, Dr Ratima’s research includes two programmes that are focused on improving health outcomes for Māori children. The first programme will explore what constitutes effective early life kaupapa Māori programming for children and whānau, while the second looks at the most effective interventions to support Māori fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives.

“Māori father involvement is an important determinant of Māori child health. The evidence overwhelming demonstrates that father involvement has a major impact on child development outcomes in areas such as mental, emotional, physical, and social health and cognitive development,” says Dr Ratima.

HRC Acting Group Manager, Māori Health Research, Jaylene Wehipeihana says Dr Pihama and Dr Ratima’s findings will be translated into interventions that should have positive health benefits for Māori throughout their lives.

“Both researchers have clearly demonstrated a commitment to kaupapa Māori and its important contribution to the health and well-being of whānau, hapū, and iwi. Their programmes will build a knowledge base that will have a significant influence on health and social service delivery to Māori,” says Ms Wehipeihana.


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