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Pasifika Researchers Collaborate In First Cross-sectoral Pacific Child Wellbeing Study

A collaboration of Pacific experts across a range of disciplines focused on children’s health & development has been awarded a Health Research Council Pacific Health Project grant of $1.17m to explore a cross-sectoral approach to measuring and improving child wellbeing. Lead researcher Dr Teuila Percival, Director at Moana Research and Consultant Paediatrician at KidzFirst Middlemore Hospital, emphasises the importance of taking a community partnership approach with families, well child nurses and early childhood education teachers.

“So often our kids are disadvantaged with Well Child and education services that miss the mark. We are partnering with Pacific families and providers to develop an approach to preschool wellbeing and school readiness that works for us”, says Dr Percival.

The team of experienced researchers from various disciplines and institutions throughout New Zealand, include Dr Rae Si’ilata, Director of Va’atele Education Consulting and a biliteracy-Pasifika specialist, Dr Mele Taumoepeau, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Otago and Associate-Professor El-Shadan Tautolo, Director of the Pacific Islands Families Study at the Auckland University of Technology.

“I am really excited at the opportunity to be part of this collaboration of Pacific research experts and working alongside our Pacific families is foundational for this research to help identify and develop solutions that can support our communities to achieve their very best”, says Associate- Professor Tautolo.

The Pasifika B4 School – Child and Family Wellbeing Study will bring together families and teachers from three Pacific ECEs with Pacific well child nurses to design and test a child wellbeing programme. The programme aims to assess and support a child’s physical and emotional development alongside their ability to connect verbally and socially through language and culture.

The study was motivated by a review of the Well Child Tamariki Ora Programme which identified inequities and failings for Pacific children and their families. The three-year study will reframe the B4 School Well Child checks by drawing on families’ natural aspirations for children to succeed at school and build on Pacific culture and identity.

Dr Si’ilata believes that “the study’s health and education research partnership will strengthen awareness of Pasifika notions of wellbeing and their connection with identity, language and culture.”

The chance to work closely with community providers and families can create opportunities for building research capacity and capability among Pacific peoples.

The study will be hosted by Moana Research and is the second HRC Pacific Project Grant to be awarded to Moana Research, an independent research organisation based in Mangere, Auckland.

Hon Andrew Little’s announcement: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/government-backs-critical-health-research

List of all funded Pacific projects:

https://www.hrc.govt.nz/news-and-events/study-aims-improve-mental-health-services-nzs-pacific-youth

Health Research Council announcement:

https://mailchi.mp/hrc/hon-minister-little-announces-683-million-in-hrc-grants?e=f1db9676d3

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