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New Research Initiatives For Maori

Friday, June 29, 2001

The Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST) and the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) have approved funding for two major new research projects for Maori. These projects are the first to be funded by the Government's new Maori Knowledge and Development research output class. They are expected to help improve socio-economic and health outcomes for Maori.

Maori Plant Medicines

FRST will administer Te Kete a Tini Rauhanga, an investigation of the native medicinal flora (rongoa Maori) used by Tuhoe , led by Dr Meto Leach through the University of Waikato. This project will see Dr Meto Leach and his research team work with respected Tohunga Rongoa or Maori medicine expert, Hohepa Kereopa, to investigate the traditional use of native flora. The aim of the research is to document the selection, preparation and medicinal uses of rongoa by Tuhoe and identify the bioactive compounds responsible for the medicinal properties observed. The project integrates mainstream science and traditional Maori knowledge and aims to improve socio-economic and health outcomes for Maori. The project, estimated to cost $320,000 p.a., will start in July 2001. The University of Waikato study is a good example of collaboration between a research provider and Maori. It also makes a significant contribution to developing Maori research capability by supporting two PhD scholarships in the area of natural product chemistry.

The Relationship Between Health Disparities and Deprivation

The HRC will administer a project on disparities and deprivation led by Dr Papaarangi Reid of the Eru Pomare Maori Health Research Centre at the Wellington School of Medicine. The team will analyse the relationship between deprivation and health disparities between Maori and non-Maori in four health areas - lung cancer, coronary heart disease, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and caesarean section. They will relate hospital admission and treatment data and death rates from these conditions to ethnicity as well as an area-based index of deprivation in New Zealand. This index includes factors such as reliance on a benefit, unemployment, low household income, lack of a car or a phone, educational qualifications and household overcrowding. The results will contribute to health promotion, health policy and improvements in health services. The project is worth $180,000 a year for three years, and will also train a senior Maori researcher in advanced statistical methods.

New Opportunities for Maori Research

A total of $1.1million will be available for investment in new Maori Knowledge and Development research programmes in the June 2001-2002 financial year. In August, the Foundation and the HRC will advertise a request for research proposals that contribute cultural, governance and health outcomes for Maori. Updates on the FRST's investment processes can be received automatically by registering on FRSTpost at Ends

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