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Supporting kaupapa Māori research

This year’s Heart Foundation Māori Fellowship recipient, Anita Rangitutia (Ngāti Haua, Tainui) is seeking to understand how whānau, who have or are at high risk of heart disease, modify their behaviour when participating in a Kaupapa Māori clinical exercise programme. Her research will contribute to her doctoral studies at Massey University.

Anita Rangitutia is a cardiac nurse who was awarded the 2022 Nurse Practitioner Training Fellowship grant from the Heart Foundation to undertake her Master of Nursing degree.

Evidence shows the absence of Māori in traditional cardiac rehabilitation programmes and it is unknown how well these traditional models meet Māori health needs. Anita’s research will look into how a clinical exercise rehabilitation programme underpinned by a Whānau Ora approach can improve heart health equity, and how the practice of this approach can lead to tino rangatiratanga and flourishing among whānau in communities.

The Heart Foundation began awarding a dedicated Māori Fellowship in 2018 to help support Māori researchers and to better address the equity gaps seen in Aotearoa when it comes to heart disease rates and outcomes amongst Māori.

Portrait of Erina Korohina - recipient of the Heart Foundation's Māori Fellowship grant 2018Erina Korohina - Inaugural recipient of the Māori Fellowship 2018

Inaugural recipient, Erina Korohina (Ngāti Porou) undertook research into Kaupapa Māori practices that support whānau and communities to develop an approach to eating well that works best for them.

Her research has reviewed different sources of nutrition information that includes Western science and mātauranga Māori to gain insights from Māori whānau about the barriers, enablers, and solutions for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

"There is an equity gap in heart disease and mortality for Māori compared to non-Māori, and nutrition knowledge is a key part of improving heart health," says Erina.

“Our research found that it works best when each of the whānau was allowed to design what best suited their needs and that one size does not fit all.

“It also showed that when given the right tools and support to complement their knowledge and skills, people were able to design, develop and guide their pathway to make it easy to eat healthy food more often.”

Erina’s research represents a major piece of work in improving equity in Māori health and represents one of the first significant co-designed, Kaupapa Māori nutrition interventions available to Māori communities to improve heart health.

Heart Foundation Medical Director Dr Gerry Devlin says improving heart health outcomes for Māori is a priority. “More needs to be done to support community initiatives across Aotearoa New Zealand, which are designed by Māori for Māori. We’re proud to be supporting some amazing research talent to help make that happen and look forward to seeing positive changes over the next decade.”

Learn more about 2022 research grants