A PhD at 73

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May 24, 2024

Te Piere Warahi (Ngāti Maniapoto), an Early Career Researcher who presented at our Symposium last month, graduated this month from the School of Population Health at Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland with a PhD at age 73. His thesis focused on Māori caregiving.

After spending over a decade caring for his mother, he was encouraged to pursue further study by Ageing Well researcher, Associate Professor Marama Muru-Lanning.

Dr Warahi protested he was too old to do a PhD, to which Marama replied, “Age has nothing to do with it.”

With Marama’s tautoko [support], Warahi was introduced to another Ageing Well researcher, Professor Ngaire Kerse, and she agreed to become his thesis supervisor.

Dr Warahi’s thesis, with its korowai of ‘care means love’, takes the best of Māori and Pākehā thinking and applies it to caring for an ageing population.

“I decided that I was going to look at the absence of law that protected the rights of caregivers and so I did infinite research on that. And then I wrote a chapter which focused solely on the voices of the carers,” Dr Warahi said.

“The theme that came through all the stories was ‘care means love’, rather than the usual narrative of ‘care means burden’,” he added.

“I just think it’s such a privilege to have served [my mother] to the end. I just loved it,” said Dr Warahi.

During his time studying for his PhD, Dr Warahi was on a journey to rediscover his Māoritanga, which led to a significant personal shift and embracing his ‘new’ name, one that had been bestowed upon him by his tūpuna as a child.

At our recent Symposium, he spoke fondly on his time caring for his mother.

“I just think it’s such a privilege to have served to the end. I just loved it,” he said.

Dr Warahi takes every opportunity to speak publicly about his thesis, which he hopes will become an educational tool for caregivers and policymakers.

Read Dr Te Piere Warahi’s thesis: ‘Carers of elderly whānau and their invisible voices’.


Additional sources:

University of Auckland

Te Ao Maori News