Funding for maternal research
New research by the University of Waikato aims to address inequities in maternal health services for Māori by using Māori knowledge and tikanga to empower Māori families.
Dr Waikaremoana Waitoki is leading the research project funded by ‘A Better Start E Tipu e Rea’ National Science Challenge, which will receive nearly $1 million over two years.
Professor Wayne Cutfield is the Director of the A Better Start National Science Challenge.
Waikaremoana says Māori communities, particularly rural ones, are currently underserved and overlooked in maternal health services and funding initiatives.
Many mothers and families have limited choices in the care they receive and need, and the health system has not prioritised Māori worldviews in the type of services offered.
Her research will take place across three sites in Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty, and takes a co-design approach to understand how Māori communities support maternal wellbeing within a mātauranga Māori worldview.
The project’s name, Raranga, raranga taku takapau: hapū ora for tamariki, comes from an ancient karakia used during the birth of Tūhuruhuru the son of Hineteiwaiwa (the atua of childbirth and te whare pora – the house of weaving).
Waikaremoana says while the traditional medical model has a vital place in maternity care, it is well known that colonialization and racism has led to inequitable health outcomes and disconnections from Māori knowledge of wellbeing and maternal care.
She says these outcomes for Māori still play a big part in the maternity experience of Māori families.
“The services are just not available for Māori and many simply don’t turn up because the traditional model doesn’t make sense or fit with them, and that model has not served our people as well as it could do.
“What these projects are attempting to do is move closer to our own Māori knowledge and Māori based approach, because we will engage more when Māori knowledge is incorporated into the model.”
The project team includes: Dr Waitoki, Dr Kahu McClintock, Dr Naomi Simmonds, Prof Helen Moewaka Barnes, Dr Teah Carlson, Dr Fiona Cram, and Dr David Tipene-Leach.
The project has three project sites:
1. Ngā Māmā o Ngāti Hauā – Wellbeing of mothers and whānau in Ngāti Hauā (Dr Kahu McKlintock, Te Rau Ora)
2. Ngā wai ora o Rāhui Pokeka: Creating communities for hapū ora in Huntly (Dr Waikaremoana Waitoki)
3. Te Whare Pora: Wairua and wellbeing in hapū ora (Dr Naomi Simmonds, Te Awananuiarangi, Whakatane).