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Making a Change in Health and Advanced Ageing

Making a Change in Health and Advanced Ageing

Members of Te RōpuKaitaki o Ngā Tikanga Māori led by Dr Mere Kepa of the University of Auckland headed to the 66th Gerontological Society America (GSA) Conference 22-24 November 2013 held in New Orleans

Dr Kepa said, “For those who made this historic journey with her to present at the conference, it was a real challenge, especially for those aged in their 80s”.

Te RōpuKaitiaki o Ngā Tikanga Māori with Dr Sela Panapasa, University of Michigan, Dr Turner Goins, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, and Mervina Cash-Kaeo, Alu Like, Honolulu, and Dr Mere Kepa presented their research and collectively facilitated a change in the conference. Te RōpūKaitiaki was the first group of people aged 60 to 80 plus years old and the first group of indigenous peoples of the age group to present to present in a GSA conference. As a whole, the researchers constituted the first international indigenous symposium in the 66 years history of the GSA conference.

Globally, the health of indigenous peoples had not been put on the map by the GSA and so a decision was made by the researchers to collaborate and seek approval to establish a Special Interest Group in the area of Indigenous Peoples and Ageing. This is important, as indigenous peoples want to age well, to develop, to share their knowledge and to contribute to their families, communities and societies.

Dr Kēpa said, “the journey across the globe was and is consistent with Māori people, historically and today, wanting to learn and contribute to tribal, local, national and global issues in health and ageing”.

Dr Kēpa is delighted with the decision made by the GSA to support indigenous researchers to develop their own research studies. The GSA has created space for groups of indigenous peoples to meet and contribute to a greater understanding of the social, physical, mental, economic and psychological process of ageing.

Dr Kēpa acknowledges the assistance provided by Professor Ngaire Kerse and the School of Population Health, UOA; Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga, New Zealand’s Indigenous Centre of Research Excellence hosted the University of Auckland; Te Whare Kura Thematic Research Institute, the UoA; Māori Health Research, New Zealand’s Health Research Council, and the Sir John Logan Campbell Trust.

Dr Kēpa considers that national support of Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga was at the heart of providing capacity and capability to Māori and international indigenous researchers to enable them to contribute to the development of their societies across the world.


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