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Research To Investigate Systemic Drivers Of Māori Cannabis And Methamphetamine Use

A Kaupapa Māori analysis of the multiple dimensions of cannabis and methamphetamine use is the focus of a $554,000 postdoctoral fellowship awarded to Māori health researcher Dr Erena Wikaire (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Te Kapotai, Te Hikutu).

The Hohua Tutengaehe Fellowship is one of several career development awards announced today by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC).

Dr Wikaire’s research will reveal multi-level insights into Māori experiences of substance use and will also apply traditional Māori understandings of health and healing (Rongoā Māori) to reducing wider influences of drug harms and improving health outcomes for whānau.

She says whānau experience considerable impacts from substance use that is linked directly to wider system-level factors. Further, health system solutions are severely limited and whānau are accessing overstretched and underfunded health services that are not always conducive to Māori needs.

Dr Wikaire’s research into Māori health needs to date has been driven by the lived realities of health inequities experienced within Māori communities.

She says Māori concern for the wellbeing of whānau is clear and urgent, but she believes the current Western health system approach to substance use often takes a “victim-blame” approach and lacks strategic interventions that consider and address the root causes of problems.

“As far as I can find, there are very few, if any, studies to date that ask Māori why they use these substances. There’s very little Māori voice; there’s lots of expert ‘non-Māori’ voice about Māori but there’s not much coming from people with lived experiences.”

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She says system approaches to date have placed responsibility with the individual, and the topic has been approached more as a criminal act than a health issue. “As a result, the data available around cannabis and methamphetamine use is largely linked to the justice system; however, there’s a need for Kaupapa Māori analysis that links together available datasets and reveals other potential systemic factors at play. What are the stories that whānau are yet to tell?

“There is evidence that Māori experience barriers to and exclusion from education, employment, healthcare, and therefore participation in society. We know that Māori experience higher levels of racism and poverty than non-Māori. How do these factors contribute to addictive and coping behaviours?” she says.

Dr Wikaire will investigate what constitutes Kaupapa Māori best practice in terms of effective Kaupapa Māori interventions to support affected whānau. The findings of this research will be presented as a multi-level framework that directly informs the work of policy makers, funders, health and wider sectors, community level organisations, and whānau.

“I feel like if we change our understanding and thinking about substance use, then that will inform the approaches we take, and those approaches will be more effective for Māori.”

She says there are many spaces where public health approaches align with Rongoā Māori (traditional Māori healing systems), such as in health promotion and environmental sustainability, and adds that indigenous healing systems offer valuable health solutions.

“Indigenous knowledge systems provide scientifically sound understandings of health and wellbeing, and I feel like as a country we’re in a position where we’re looking to those approaches for help in answering our health priorities.”

The HRC’s chief executive, Professor Sunny Collings, says this year’s award recipients are tackling a broad range of priorities important to their communities and New Zealanders as a whole.

The HRC’s annual career development awards help foster and sustain New Zealand's health research workforce. Today, more than $13.38 million was announced for researchers across three categories – General, Māori Health, and Pacific Health.

See below for the full list of award recipients. For lay summaries of the research proposals, go to - all recipients and lay summaries will appear in the HRC Research Repository once the embargo is lifted.

2021 Career Development Awards – General

Clinical Research Training Fellowship

Dr Lize Angelo, The University of Auckland

Keratoconus and corneal cross-linking

36 months, $259,000

Ms Linda Bowden, The University of Auckland

Evidence-based suicide prevention for youth in contemporary Aotearoa New Zealand

36 months, $259,354.

Dr Mercedes Burnside, University of Otago, Christchurch

CREATE Trial; Community deRivEd AutomaTEd insulin delivery

24 months, $180,000

Dr Emma Church, The University of Auckland

Multimorbidity and cardiovascular disease risk prediction

36 months, $260,000.

Ms Sarah Goldsbury, University of Otago, Christchurch

Māori whānau experiences of neuropsychological assessment for FASD

36 months, $260,000

Mr Jay Gong, The University of Auckland

Persistent opioid use and opioid-related harm after surgery and trauma

36 months, $259,000

Dr Ngaire Keenan, University of Otago, Wellington

Defining Māori epilepsy burden and developing an approach for future research

24 months, $173,333

Dr Chen Liu, The University of Auckland

Stoma-output recycling device for ileostomy reversal

12 months, $86,667

Dr Matthew McDonald, The University of Auckland

Early biomarkers in mild traumatic brain Injury: A multi-disciplinary approach

36 months, $260,000

Ms Prue Molyneux, Auckland University of Technology

Clinical utility of ultrasound imaging for evaluation of foot osteoarthritis

36 months, $259,900

Dr Rachel Murdoch, The University of Auckland

Effect of dexamethasone on acute phase response following zoledronic acid

12 months, $86,580

Mrs Nora Parore, Research Trust of Victoria University of Wellington

He tono whakapiki ora: Whānau and pharmacists’ knowledge exchange

48 months, $258,471

Dr Sarah Primhak, The University of Auckland

Treatment of Impetigo with Antiseptics-Replacing Antibiotics (TIARA) Trial

24 months, $160,000

Clinical Practitioner Research Fellowship

Dr Alison Leversha, Auckland DHB Charitable Trust

Collaboration for child wellbeing

60 months, $890,709

Sir Charles Hercus Fellowship

Dr Collin Brooks, Massey University

The benefits of biodiversity: a novel approach to preventing asthma and allergy?

48 months, $491,527

Dr Elodie Desroziers, University of Otago

Unravelling the role of glial cells in fertility regulation

48 months, $506,917

Dr Victor Dieriks, The University of Auckland

Decreasing alpha synuclein in Parkinson’s disease. Are ‘strains’ the solution?

48 months, $571,338

Dr Sunali Mehta, University of Otago

Adapting to a CINister genome: regulating chromosomal instability and metastasis

48 months, $600,000

Dr Adam Middleton, University of Otago

Protein degradation: from understanding to application

48 months, $599,999

Dr Michel Nieuwoudt, The University of Auckland

Photonic device for real-time measurement of ischaemic tissue margins in surgery

48 months, $482,706.

Dr Kenneth Tran, The University of Auckland

Bioenergetics of human diabetic heart failure

48 months, $586,497.

Foxley Fellowship

Dr Ryan Paul, University of Waikato

Education and mentoring of primary care to improve diabetes care in the Waikato

24 months, $174,993

Girdlers HRC Fellowship

Dr Cervantee Wild, The University of Auckland

Experiences of children and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic

36 months, $332,645

2021 Māori Health Career Development Awards

Māori Health Knowledge Translation Grant

Dr Terryann Clark, The University of Auckland

Accessible digital resources for rangatahi and their whānau

6 months, $5,000

Ms Joanna Hikaka, The University of Auckland

Upholding the right of Māori older adults to control their medicines journey

6 months, $5,000.

Rangahau Hauora Training Grant

Dr Tepora Emery, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

‘Poipoia te kākano, kia puāwai’

5 months, $12,000

Māori Health Summer Studentship

Miss Brooke Bridges, University of Otago, Wellington

Understanding how the supportive care needs of Māori with cancer are assessed

3 months, $5,000

Ms Raiha Cook, University of Otago, Wellington

An inquiry into Raukura integration into Euro-centric Otago University

4 months, $5,000.

Miss Sade Gilbert-Perenise, University of Otago, Wellington

Utilisation of Wai for the holistic wellbeing of Māori

3 months, $5,000

Ms Jordon Lima, University of Otago

Investigating genetic links between height and gout in Māori and Pacific people

3 months, $5,000

Miss Tahirah Moton, The University of Auckland

Teaching in racialised spaces - SET feasibility project

2 months, $5,000

Miss Ruby Ngamane-Harding, Research Trust of Victoria University of Wellington

Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki response to mental health needs in rangatahi

3 months, $5,000.

Mrs Ariel Schwencke, The University of Auckland

Whanaungatanga and association with health outcomes, health literacy and access

2 months, $5,000

Ms Saskia van der Wilt, University of Otago

Physiotherapists use of green space for life-long health conditions

2 months, $5,000

Māori Health PhD Scholarship

Ms Jordon Lima, University of Otago

Equitable application of circulating tumour DNA to the New Zealand population

36 months, $141,000

Ms Natalie Talamaivao, The University of Auckland

Exploring interrelationships between racism, time and Māori health inequities

72 months, $131,247

Erihapeti Rehu-Murchie Fellowship

Ms Ngahuia Murphy, University of Waikato

Aho Tapairu: Developing a mana wahine well-being toolkit

36 months, $394,035

Dr Pikihuia Pomare, Massey University

Mauri tau: Indigenous psychological and therapeutic approaches to mental health

36 months, $378,331

Māori Health Masters Scholarship

Mr Witana Petley, University of Otago

Experiences of stroke rehabilitation for Māori stroke survivors and their whanau

24 months, $31,600

Māori Health Development Grant

Dr Kim Southey, Te Puawai Tapu Trust

Maori women's experiences of access to abortion in Aotearoa NZ

5 months, $10,000

Hohua Tutengaehe Fellowship

Dr Joeliee Seed-Pihama, University of Waikato

Kia taiohi te tū

36 months, $386,985

Dr Erena Wikaire, Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiarangi

A Kaupapa Māori analysis of Māori cannabis and methamphetamine use

48 months, $554,400

2021 Pacific Health Career Development Awards

Pacific Health PhD Scholarship

Ms Rubinstine Manukia, Auckland University of Technology

Exploring the role of Tongan faith leaders in influencing wellbeing

36 months, $84,033.

Miss Hulita Tauveli, Massey University

Faith to bounce back! Pacific youth wellbeing and resilience

22 months, $79,933

Mr Jordan Taylor, University of Otago

Decoding the genome of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains endemic to the Pacific

36 months, $129,550

Miss Zanetta Toomata, The University of Auckland

Pharmacogenetics of T2D medications within the Māori and Pacific population

36 months, $125,550

Pacific Health Postdoctoral Fellowship

Mr Caleb Marsters, The University of Auckland

The importance of informal mental health help-seeking for Pacific men in NZ

36 months, $381,402

Dr Natalie Netzler, The University of Auckland

Effects of unique Pacific gene variants on immunity and metabolic disease

36 months, $398,248

Dr Analosa Veukiso-Ulugia, Moana Research

Nesian Narratives: Enhancing sexuality education for Pacific communities

36 months, $442,511

Pacific Health Knowledge Translation Grant

Mr Edmond Fehoko, Auckland University of Technology

Culture, church and community: Understanding Tongan gambling in New Zealand

10 months, $4,700

Dr Losa Moata'ane, University of Otago

Reducing health inequalities. Pacific Experiences in DHB System

4 months, $5,000

Miss Jaye Moors, University of Otago

Metabolic disease in Polynesian adults and adolescents in New Zealand

4 months, $5,000

Ms Soana Muimuiheata, Auckland University of Technology

Me'akai, Suka mo e Mo'ui Lotolu (Food, diabetes and total wellbeing)

4 months, $5,000

Ms Soana Muimuiheata, Auckland University of Technology

Talanoa 'o e Me'akai mo e Suka

4 months, $5,000

Mr Troy Ruhe, University of Otago

The 'Niu Movement' - The effectiveness of circuit-based exercise in communities

4 months, $5,000

Dr Seini Taufa, Moana Research

Taufa’s 5Gs model –the intra-ethnic variations among Tongan teenage mothers

6 months, $5,000

Pacific Health Masters Scholarship

Miss Annie Baiteke, The University of Auckland

Obesity amongst Kiribati communities

12 months, $31,000

Miss Leueta Mulipola, The University of Auckland

Exploring the understanding and expression of anger among Pasifika youth

12 months, $31,404

Mr Oka Sanerivi, University of Otago

Culturally responsive physiotherapy approaches for working with Pacific children

24 months, $32,430

Pacific Health Summer Studentship

Mr Duncan Drysdale, University of Otago

Developing a supported playgroup for children of Pacific families

2 months, $5,000

Miss Paige Enoka, University of Otago

Physical activity participation for Pacific people

2 months, $5,000

Ms Ileana Lameta, University of Otago

Self-management of long-term conditions for Pacific people

2 months, $5,000

Miss Malia Pateli, The University of Auckland

The prevalence of vitrectomy and cataract post vitrectomy in Pacific and Māori

2 months, $5,000

Mr Cori Poimatagi, University of Waikato

Pacific identity and spirituality in mental health and wellbeing

3 months, $5,000

Miss Urata Sofai, University of Otago

Mental health and wellbeing of the Pacific non-regulated health workforce

3 months, $5,000

Sir Thomas Davis Te Patu Kite Rangi Ariki Health Research Fellowship

Dr Sione Vaka, Auckland University of Technology

Pacific mental health: Integrating Pacific worldviews and practices

24 months, $300,000

Pacific Health Clinical Training Fellowship

Mrs Ioana Mulipola, Auckland University of Technology

Samoan families’ experience with mental health services

24 months, $172,500

Dr Simone Watkins, The University of Auckland

Why do outcomes of critical congenital heart disease in NZ differ by ethnicity?

36 months, $260,000

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