Author: Rebecca Richardson

Save the Date – Ageing Well Symposium 2022

Mark it in your calendars! Ageing Well will be hosting a Symposium on Monday, 3 October.

This free public event, ‘Aged Care and Housing: evidence-based solutions for Aotearoa’, will feature Ageing Well researchers and experts in this area, drawing upon their extensive research and knowledge. 

More information will be posted in the coming weeks, including speakers, notable guests, and registration. 

We hope you can join us.

Filed under: Events

Ageing Well Newsletter – Issue 3, 2022

Ageing Well team members recently met with the new Chief Executive of Age Concern NZ, Karen Billings-Jensen.

In the third instalment of the Ageing Well Newsletter for 2022, we feature:

  • An update from Ageing Well Director, Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie
  • New funding announcement: Te Roro – a Mātauranga Maori Study
  • Save the date – October 3rd – for Ageing Well’s Symposium
  • Meeting the new Chief Executive of Age Concern NZ
  • Celebrating Matariki
  • ISAP Chair appointed to a new role
  • Professor Ngaire Kerse on Alzheimer’s NZ podcast
  • Researcher wins WHO Innovation Challenge
  • Call for papers: The Gerontologist Special Edition
  • UN Decade for Healthy Ageing 50 Leaders List
  • plus more!

Read these articles in Ageing Well’s Newsletter – Issue 3.

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Filed under: Navigation

Innovative New Brain Study Will Benefit Whānau

New Funding Announcement

Text image that says new funding announcment. TeTe Roro: A Mātauranga Māori study. A project to explore a holistic view of Māori brain health and wellbeing utilising kaupapa Māori methods. The two logos of Ageing Well and Te Atawhai o Te Ao are represented at the bottom.

Two organisations committed to doing science differently – Ageing Well National Science Challenge and Te Atawhai o Te Ao – are pleased to announce a new collaboration to study Māori brain health.

Te Roro: A Mātauranga Māori study is a research project that approaches brain health in a holistic way, placing emphasis on mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge), and being led by Māori for the benefit of Māori. It will draw on traditional sources such as whakairo (carvings), karakia (prayers and incantations), mōteatea (chanted song-poetry), and other sources to understand how Māori view brain health and well-being.

Most research in New Zealand has contributed to western frameworks and treatments for brain conditions such as dementia, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and neurodiversity. In contrast, Māori have a holistic view of health and Te Roro seeks to address this, utilising kaupapa Māori methods to explore brain health and well-being. The research team includes mātauranga Māori experts who are embedded and trusted in the communities they serve.

“Te Roro is a unique opportunity for two organisations, Ageing Well and Te Atawhai o Te Ao, to build on our strengths and collaborate in world-class brain research that directly addresses the inequality Māori face in the health and medical system,” said Ageing Well Director, Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie. 

“We are proud to facilitate a strong partnership where we are making a difference in the lives of whānau Māori, both now and in the future.”

Te Atawhai o Te Ao, an independent Māori institute for health and environment, will lead this research, utilising their extensive knowledge and networks to facilitate a merging of Indigenous knowledge and western science.

“This is a unique piece of work due to the Māori specific lens being used in the approach. Te Atawhai o Te Ao are looking forward to the opportunity provided by the Ageing Well National Science Challenge to undertake this research utilising our narratives to provide new context in this space,” said Dr Rāwiri Tinirau, Director of Te Atawhai o Te Ao and Principal Investigator of Te Roro.

The long term outcome of Te Roro study is to empower whānau Māori to maintain or improve brain health throughout their lifespans. The research aims to contribute to a revival of mātauranga Māori on the brain, as well as conceptualisations and re-conceptualisations of the brain and the body from a mātauranga Māori perspective.

Ageing Well Co-Director, Professor David Baxter, is buoyed by the collaboration’s opportunity to disseminate information and findings in numerous ways.

“This innovative research study puts traditional Māori methods, such as wānanga, whakairo, and whaikōrero, on an even footing with the outputs of western academic science, such as publications and reports,” said Professor Baxter.

“We are excited that the opportunity to pursue these avenues of research for both Ageing Well and Te Atawhai o Te Ao will generate knowledge to inform and improve the lives of all New Zealanders.”


Filed under: Funding, Research

ISAP Chair Appointed to New Role

The Chair of Ageing Well’s International Science Advisory Panel (ISAP), Professor Jacobijn Gussekloo, has been appointed Dean of the Honours Academy at Leiden University.
Leiden University, located in the Netherlands, is one of the world’s premier research universities. Their Honours Academy is a prestigious and future-oriented opportunity for high school, Bachelors, and Masters students to supplement their studies. The curriculum is multidisciplinary and offers students greater depth and an opportunity to explore outside of their own area of expertise. The Honours Academy aims to be a ‘testing ground’ to help foster greater innovation throughout the university.
Professor Gussekloo is currently Professor of Primary Care and director of the Master’s programme Vitality and Ageing at the University. In addition to serving on a number of other boards, she is Chair of our ISAP, a group of experts from all around the world who help guide Ageing Well research and connect our researchers with international networks.
Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie, Director of Ageing Well, was proud to see Professor Gussekloo’s expertise and leadership recognised by her home institution.
“Professor Gussekloo is an astute and strong leader who will be able to make an impact in her new role and help shape the minds of the next generation of students. The Ageing Well whānau wishes her all the best as she takes on this new professional role at Leiden University.”
{Image source: Leiden University}

Filed under: Our people

Ageing Well Newsletter – Issue 2, 2022

In the second instalment of the Ageing Well Newsletter for 2022, we feature:

  • An update from Ageing Well Director, Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie
  • Read the Ageing Well response to the Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways review
  • Research Spotlight: Helping Pacific families affected by dementia
  • Welcoming the new Aged Care Commissioner
  • Ageing Well Director named Chair of Rauika Māngai
  • New Fellows Elected to the Royal Society Te Apārangi
  • ACTIVATION Project ‘Getting Around’ survey
  • New publications by Ageing Well researchers
  • Ageing Well researcher teams up with Dr Ashley Bloomfield
  • New papers focus on equity
  • Other helpful news and resources

Read these articles in Ageing Well’s newsletter – Issue 2.

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Sign up here and we’ll send you periodic updates on what is happening at Ageing Well.

Filed under: Newsletter

Research Spotlight: Helping Pacific Families Affected by Dementia

What do you do when a family member is diagnosed with dementia?
This is a question more Pacific families are having to face.

Though they remain a youthful group — almost half of Aotearoa’s Pacific people are under 20 — its population is also ageing at a relatively fast clip too. Not only will more Pacific people suffer from dementia in the next few decades, but there is also the suggestion that they may be experiencing cognitive impairments at younger ages than New Zealand Europeans.

The project, ‘Exploring the Needs of Pacific Families Affected by Age-Related Cognitive Impairment’, was jointly funded by Ageing Well and Brain Research New Zealand. It sought to examine the services available to support Pacific families looking after a loved one with dementia.

Principal Investigator Professor Pauline Norris, of the University of Otago, sought to discover what are Pacific families’ “unmet needs”—that is, when health and social service assistance is inadequate or absent – when dealing with the fallout of dementia.

In Pacific communities, older people play a key role as leaders in language and culture for their extended family and beyond. Yet, healthcare providers and support services indicated the needs of aged Pacific people experiencing cognitive decline are not being met.

The research showed that there were three main areas of concern: accessing services, getting a diagnosis, and communication/language.

What the study discovered was that many Pacific people experienced a lack of information and therefore access to services. The diagnosis was often made difficult by inconsistent access to general practitioners in lower socio-economic areas and long wait times. A lack of information in Pacific languages that incorporated a Pacific worldview made communication more difficult. There was also a lack of health workers across all sectors who spoke Pacific languages, and understood Pacific peoples’ cultural needs.

Dr Vanda Symon, Research Fellow with the University of Otago Centre for Pacific Health and researcher on this project, said there was also “a lack of awareness of the signs and symptoms of dementia”, therefore making it harder for family members to recognise what their loved one was experiencing.

“[The project] has really highlighted that there is a lot of need and that people’s needs are not being met for various reasons,” Dr Symon said.

By identifying the challenges facing Pacific peoples navigating the health care sector, changes can be made to ensure greater accessibility, communication, and support as they help their loved ones navigate life with dementia.

Read the recent Otago Daily Times article about the project.

Read the article about the research from our Celebration Book here or in the PDF reader below.


Filed under: Research

Ageing Well Submission to Te Ara Paerangi – Future Strategy

In response to the Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways review, Ageing Well was pleased to submit a document that encapsulated extensive consultation and internal thinking around how we feel the science sector could deliver the best outcomes for all New Zealanders. 

The Ageing Well submission provided responses to the questions posed in Te Ara Paerangi green paper, and prefaced the questions with a short contextual statement and a summary at the start of the document. Directors Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie and Professor David Baxter also attended the various MBIE-led workshops to learn more about the process and to help crystalise their thinking about the review and the Ageing Well response. 

The responsibility for formulating a response to this green paper was a significant undertaking and one the Ageing Well Directors did not approach lightly. Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie and Professor Baxter understood that this document would affect generations of New Zealanders and have a significant impact on the science and research sector in Aotearoa New Zealand for decades.

“Preparing our response has provided Ageing Well with a significant opportunity to positively shape the future of the sector in which we work and engage,” said Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie.

“It was important to us to shape a submission that was well considered and innovative, but also one that emphasised equity and opportunity. We feel that Ageing Well’s experiences can offer important insights for how the science sector can move to Tiriti partnership,” she said.

The method for arriving at a completed submission was a long process over a relatively short period of time. Advantageous and important korero happened with our researchers and early career researchers, fellow National Science Challenges, Governance Group, Strategic Advisory Group, the University of Otago (as our host organisation), New Zealand Gerontology Association, as well with our key community stakeholders. Additionally, it was also informed by wānanga with Rauika Māngai (for those aligned with the National Science Challenges and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga) and Te Pūtahitanga (for Māori across the broad science sector).

Professor Baxter wished to acknowledge all the korero that took place since Te Ara Paerangi was released in October 2021.

“It has been a wonderful opportunity to think strategically and to ponder what we want the future research sector to look like in Aotearoa New Zealand. It has been beneficial to connect with all who are aligned with us to hear what they had to say. It is not every day you have an opportunity to have these higher level future-building discussions that are essential to keep the sector moving in the right direction,” said Professor Baxter.

“We are proud of the submission we produced and hope that this sector review proves fruitful,” he added.

Interested in reading the Ageing Well submission to Te Ara Paerangi?
A PDF can be accessed here or read in the PDF reader below.

Read the Rauika Māngai submission to the Te Ara Paerangi.


Filed under: Publications

Newly Elected Royal Society Fellows

Ageing Well is proud to recognise two of our whānau who have recently been elected Fellows of the Academy of the Royal Society Te Apārangi. They are part of a cohort of twenty-three new Fellows who are world leaders in their area of expertise.

Professor Tahu Kukutai was honoured for her work in Māori demography and Indigenous data sovereignty.  She was a former member of the Ageing Well directorate. Current Ageing Well researcher Professor Murray Thomson, who is a vital member of our AWESSoM research programme, was named a Fellow for his contribution to dental epidemiology and research.

This is an outstanding achievement that recognises distinction in research, scholarship, or the advancement of knowledge at the highest international standards. 

The team at Ageing Well wishes to congratulate Professor Kukutai and Professor Thomson on this wonderful recognition of their mahi.  

Bios from the Royal Society Te Apārangi

Professor Tahu Kukutai (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tiipa, Te Aupōuri, Waikato), National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis, University of Waikato

Tahu Kukutai’s research focuses on two distinct but complementary areas: Māori demography and Indigenous data sovereignty. She has undertaken a broad range of applied population research, from iwi projections and demographic profiling, to survey-based analysis of Māori identity and whānau structure. She has published widely on Māori demography and ethnic identity and is recognised internationally for her work on state practices of ethnic and racial classification and census taking.

The impact of her work is demonstrated by the uptake by iwi, Māori organisations (such as the Independent Māori Statutory Board) and government agencies (Ministry of Social Development, Te Puni Kōkiri, Superu, Treasury), as well as many advisory roles (such as Chief Science Advisor Forum, 2018 Census External Data Quality Panel, Iwi Chairs Forum).

Professor Murray Thomson, School of Dentistry, University of Otago

Murray Thomson is a researcher in dental epidemiology and health services who has made important and sustained contributions to knowledge in a number of fields over the last three decades. His work in the renowned Dunedin Study has enhanced understanding of oral health throughout life. He is an expert on the oral condition ‘dry mouth’ and has developed measures which are being widely used in clinical practice and research. He has also made important contributions to understanding of the oral health of the ageing population and of the effectiveness of dental care in improving the lives of children and their families.

Murray’s national oral health survey work in Australasia has been internationally influential. He has also provided many years of service as an Editor-in-Chief for international scientific journals.

[Image Source: Professor Tahu Kukutai // Profesor Murray Thomson]

Filed under: Our people

AW Director Named Chair of Rauika Māngai

The Rauika Māngai, a Māori organisation that advances Mātauranga Māori, accelerates research, and positively influences science policy, says nau mai, haere mai to its two new leaders: Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie – Director of Ageing Well – and Dr Selai Letica.

These new leaders have paddled their waka towards the leadership roles within the Rauika Māngai. The new Chair of the Rauika Māngai is Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie and Dr Letica is the new Deputy Chair, following on from the great work done by former Chair Dr Jessica Hutchings and former Deputy Chair Dr Willy-John Martin.

Rauika Māngai is a term meaning ‘assembly of representatives’ and is a collective of leaders from the eleven National Science Challenges and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, Aotearoa New Zealand’s Centre of Māori Research Excellence. These scientists, managers, and leaders are at the forefront of creating a step change in the implementation of the Vision Mātauranga policy.

They work for the whānau, hapū, iwi, and diverse Māori communities that uphold tikanga and wairuatanga and extend the mātauranga continuum.

Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie is the Director of Ageing Well National Science Challenge, and researcher at the University of Otago, specialising in brain changes associated with Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain. She is Ngāti Maniapoto and Te Arawa.

The new Chair wished to convey her respect and admiration for the previous leaders and their commitment to making an impact.

“Leading a forward-thinking collective such as the Rauika Māngai is a significant role. I wish to thank the previous Chair, Dr Jessica Hutchings, and former Deputy Chair, Dr Willy-John Martin, for their tireless commitment to making an impact, particularly in the implementation of the Vision Mātauranga policy,” said Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie.

“Dr Hutchings and Dr Martin played an integral role in all that Rauika Māngai has done so far. We appreciate their strong leadership to make this collective a strong voice for Māori and mātauranga Māori in the science sector,” she added.

Under the leadership of Drs Hutchings and Martin, Rauika Māngai hosted wānanga to develop and release the Vision Mātauranga Guide in 2020. Additionally, they contributed to a groundbreaking report ‘Te Pūtahitanga: A Tiriti–led Science-Policy Approach for Aotearoa New Zealand’ that addresses the need for a robust science sector that demonstrates inclusion, accessibility, and equitable funding and outcomes for Māori.

During a period of transition between the two leadership groups, Dr Hutchings worked alongside incoming Deputy Chair Dr Letica to develop a series of in-depth webinars that looked at Wai 262, one of the most significant and far-reaching claims considered by the Waitangi Tribunal. The first webinar looked at the history and impacts of Wai 262 and the second discussed the claim and the opportunities for the National Science Challenges and the wider science sector.

The new Deputy Chair of Rauika Māngai, Dr Letica, works with Our Land and Water National Science Challenge and is the Director of oRangaHau Ltd, an independent firm that provides tikanga-based solutions within the agricultural sector and Māori communities. She is Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, and Tagata Pasifika.

“The eleven individual National Science Challenges have been moving towards becoming Treaty-responsive organisations and we are encouraged by the progress so far. We have seen how it is possible to partner meaningfully with Maori communities, to effectively implement the Vision Mātauranga policy into our projects. The National Science Challenges (NSC) have partnered with the Rauika to provide a platform for us to champion the voices and contributions of Indigenous knowledge holders in the NSC system,” said Dr Letica.

Amplifying the work already done by the previous leadership is one of the key goals of Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie and Dr Letica. Energy will be put into addressing system change this year; creating tools and other resources for researchers, making submissions and evidence based recommendations for policy makers – drawing on our collective experience across all 11 NSCs. The collective has in the pipeline a compelling report on the Wai 262 webinars and discussion, as well as producing tools and resources aimed to support RSI managers and practitioners to understand and act on their obligations as Te Tiriti partners.

However, the first item on the agenda for Rauika Māngai was formulating the collective’s response to the Government’s Te Ara Paerangi science sector review. The vision that Rauika has for the science sector is to see that, within 30 years, Māori are equal partners with the Crown to determine the priorities and outcomes. They envision a system with a Māori science entity that includes mātauranga, traditional knowledge, and knowledge that Māori hold and generate now and in the future.

“Discussing the future dimensions of the science and research sectors is an important kaupapa for Rauika Māngai. We have an important perspective from which to help shape the future of Aotearoa New Zealand’s science sector and are looking to contribute our combined knowledge and experiences in a meaningful way,” said Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie.

“Leading the Rauika Māngai is an honour and a privilege, and I look forward to progressing the goals of our collective and so we can continue to make an impact,” she added.


Filed under: Our people

ACTIVATION Getting Around Survey

A recent survey of residents living in a new social housing development in Christchurch has shown that three out of four residents struggled to afford transport costs from time to time, and seven out of ten people missed medical appointments, grocery shopping, or time with friends and family due to transport difficulties.

The survey was conducted as part of the ACTIVATION project, a major research initiative jointly funded by two National Science Challenges – Ageing Well and Healthier Lives – which is investigating ways of retro-fitting the design of our cities to encourage more active modes of travel. The research investigates the concept of shared mobility – that is the shared use of a vehicle or bicycle. The project focuses on two urban sites, one in the North Island at Māngere, South Auckland, and the other on the South Island in Christchurch.

“Shared mobility has the potential to be a really important part of a low carbon transport system. Yet we know little about the public’s interest and appetite for it, and also any co-impacts,” said Professor Simon Kingham, lead investigator for the Christchurch arm of the ACTIVATION project.

“For example, do people get more physical activity when they share transport? This project will help us understand more about these types of potential co-benefits.”

ŌCHT’s Brougham Village, Christchurch

The completion of a major social housing development in Christchurch in July 2021 enabled researchers to initiate the first phase of their South Island programme. Built by the Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust (ŌCHT), the new 90-home complex replaced Brougham Village which had been demolished following the 2011 Canterbury earthquake. This higher density city development in Sydenham offers a prime opportunity to learn which transport interventions would fit best with the needs of a new urban community.

ACTIVATION researchers based at the University of Canterbury, the University of Otago, and Lincoln University sought to understand the needs of the community around transport and so canvassed their views about an e-bike and car share scheme being established by ŌCHT.

Most residents thought that the shared transport scheme would be useful and planned to use it, but survey results indicated that further information about the scheme and its costs was needed. Fewer than half of the residents own their own car or bicycle.

ACTIVATION researchers Professor Simon Kingham and Dr Helen Fitt

“One of the key transport goals of government is to provide inclusive access to transport that enables all people to participate in society,” said Dr Helen Fitt, ACTIVATION researcher.

“That so many of our research participants reported that they cannot reliably attend medical appointments, access quality food, and meet with friends and relatives, demonstrates a substantial gap between the government’s aspiration and the lived experience of our participants.”

Solutions to these issues require a multi-agency approach, and Dr Fitt sees this as an important aspect of the ACTIVATION project.

“What really inspires me as a researcher is the opportunity to work with participants and the relevant agencies to figure out how to narrow this gap and improve outcomes for individuals and for society.”

ACTIVATION project researchers sought an accessible style to facilitate sharing the survey results. Dr Fitt was fortunate to participate in a Drawing Science Workshop with Toby Morris and Dr Siouxsie Wiles, hosted by The Spinoff and the Science Media Centre, and from this came the idea to communicate the survey findings in an illustrated format. The researchers partnered with illustrator Yasmine El Orfi to produce an engaging and informative leaflet that has been well received by the residents.

Christchurch offers a unique opportunity to investigate changes in travel practices associated with urban regeneration. Further interviews and surveys with residents and stakeholders will determine how the scheme might have aided the community in a year’s time. The results of this research will inform ways in which transport and housing design can be integrated to encourage active mobility in urban regeneration programmes elsewhere in the city and around the country.



Filed under: Research

Ageing Well Newsletter – Issue 1, 2022

In the first instalment of the Ageing Well Newsletter for 2022, we feature:

  • An update from Ageing Well Director, Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie
  • Helpful Covid-19 resources
  • Sending aroha to those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Tonga
  • Te Are Paerangi Future Pathways
  • Research Spotlight: Healthy Pacific Grandparents
  • New publications by Ageing Well researchers and whānau
  • New funding opportunity from the HRC
  • New report: ‘Older Māori and aged residential care in Aotearoa’
  • Our researchers in the news
  • Other helpful news and resources

Read these articles in Ageing Well’s newsletter – Issue 1.

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Filed under: Newsletter

Research Spotlight: Healthy Pacific Grandparents

Understanding older Pacific peoples’ views on ageing

Pacific people are the only ethnic group in Aotearoa New Zealand whose mortality rate has stagnated rather than decreased in recent years. Associate Professor El-Shadan (Dan) Tautolo – Director of the Centre for Pacific Health and research at Auckland University of Technology – sought to uncover Pacific peoples’ views on ageing, their needs, and the barriers they encounter to accessing healthcare.

The Healthy Pacific Grandparents study sprung out of the Associate Professor Tautolo’s directorship of the Pacific Island Families Study, a longitudinal study of the 1,400 Pacific children born in Auckland in 2000. Some of the grandparents of the children in the longitudinal study volunteered to take part in the Grandparents study, with almost 100 Tongan, Samoan, and Cook Islands Māori grandparents taking part over a period of more than two years.

Co-created, collaborative research

One of the hallmarks of Ageing Well research is co-creating the research with the community it serves, and the Healthy Pacific Grandparents study was no different. Genuine engagement was a critical part of the process, and the reciprocal nature meant that researcher-Grandparents gained skills and the researchers gained knowledge.

“By design, the Pacific Grandparents were not simply participants, but also ‘co-researchers’… leading the charge to fix the very health and wellbeing problems they faced,” said Associate Professor Tautolo.

About the research

The grandparents’ health priorities were somewhat unexpected. After much discussion, they wanted to focus on two achievable areas: foot health and literacy. Researchers set about supporting the participants to find ways to address these issues.

One of the study’s most important discoveries centred on the importance of culture. A strong cultural identity, the study showed, was good for Pacific peoples’ health. Those who were in sync with their culture has better health outcomes than those who lost their cultural mooring.

Associate Professor El-Shadan (Dan) Tautolo

All of the grandparent-researchers were “very happy with the project” and the way their involvement refined and improved services that existed within the community for older Pacific peoples. Associate Professor Tautolo’s team and the community of participants demonstrates the benefits of collaborative research partnerships, especially among a population that is often isolated and unheard.

Read more about the healthy Pacific Grandparents Project on the PDF reader below.


Filed under: Research

Holiday Office Hours

Kia ora.

The Ageing Well Office will be closed over the holiday period, from Friday 17 December, and will reopen on Monday 10 January, 2022.

The Ageing Well team wishes you and your whānau a happy holiday season!

We look forward to seeing you rested and recharged in 2022.

Filed under: Office

Ageing Well Newsletter – Issue 5, 2021

Ageing Well Director, Assoc Prof Louise Parr-Brownlie addresses Ageing Well whānau at our regional symposium, Dunedin.

In the fifth and final instalment of Ageing Well’s newsletter for 2021, we feature:

  • An update from the Chair of Ageing Well, Dr Will Edwards
  • Professor Baxter appointed Dean of Graduate School
  • A recap of our regional symposia
  • Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways webinars
  • Research spotlight: Independence and Housing Tenure
  • Research team wins University medal
  • How to talk to people about vaccine hesitancy
  • Researcher receives fellowship
  • Helpful articles, and more.

Read these articles in Ageing Well’s newsletter – Issue 5.

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Sign up here and we’ll send you periodic updates on what is happening at Ageing Well.

Filed under: Newsletter

Research Spotlight: Independence and Housing Tenure

The Independence and Housing Tenure Project: investigating how housing affects wellbeing, independence, social engagement, and dignity in older people

New Zealand used to boast one of the highest rates of home ownership in the western world, though now our owner occupation rates are falling rapidly to levels that prevailed in the 1930s. This movement of people from home ownership to the rental market has significant outcomes for older people and this was investigated by a team led by Dr Kay Saville-Smith, Director of the Centre for Research, Evaluation, and Social Assessment (CRESA).

The Independence and Housing Tenure study investigated the future of older people in an increasingly diverse New Zealand where structural population ageing is taking place at the same time as a housing tenure revolution.  

Dr Saville-Smith with the multi-disciplinary and multi-organisation research team who explored seniors’ lives when renting addressed several urgent questions related to these problems:

How will this rising reliance on the rental market impact on older people into the future?
}Will renting improve or hinder older people’s wellbeing and independence?
Will renting alleviate or exacerbate cognitive and physical impairments?
And what impact, if any, will renting have on older New Zealanders’ personal dignity and social engagement?

Dr Kay Saville-Smith, Director of CRESA

About the research

This multi-method research combined demographic and quantitative data with working with older people and communities to explore the impacts of tenure on older people and community wellbeing.

Dr Saville-Smith said of the experience, “One of the things that made this research innovative was the collaborative and enthusiastic nature of our stakeholders and seniors in helping build and test the tools we developed. They were heavily invested in their time and commitment to this research with us and were our partners in every step of the process.

“For the study, we assembled a team of expert researchers who each brought a differing experience and skill set to the table and this study was the result of a united effort,” she said.

The findings of this wide-ranging research have informed policymaking, raised awareness in the community, and also helped develop a new tool for older people: Life When Renting – Going for Good Rent.

The Life When Renting Toolkit that the team produced has recently been updated and you can find it at the new Office for Seniors website.

Read more about the project in our Research Spotlight on the Independence and Housing Tenure Project on the PDF reader below.


Filed under: Research

Prof Baxter Appointed Dean of Graduate Research School

Ageing Well is proud to congratulate our Co-Director Professor David Baxter on his appointment as Dean of the University of Otago Graduate Research School. The appointment was announced by Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Helen Nicholson earlier this week and Professor Baxter will commence this new role in April 2022.

Professor Baxter has extensive experience advancing graduate education, spending ten years as Dean of Physiotherapy at Otago and having led the establishment of a new Research Graduate School at the University of Ulster, UK. Additionally, he was significantly involved in the UK Council for Graduate Education.

“In a research-intensive university like Otago, this position plays a pivotal part in ensuring the success of future generations of graduate researchers and preparing them for the ever-changing research environments,” said Professor Baxter.

Director of Ageing Well, Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie, was elated at the news.

“This is a wonderful professional opportunity for Professor Baxter and I am gratified that he has been recognized for his long-standing commitment to fostering graduate research,” Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie said.

“Additionally, I am also pleased that his role as Dean will still allow for his continued involvement as Co-Director of Ageing Well.”

This sentiment was also reiterated by Professor Baxter.

“I look forward to remaining as the Co-Director of Ageing Well as we have much left to do,” he said.

Filed under: Our people

Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways

In late October, the Ministry for Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) released the Green Paper entitled ‘Te Ara Paerangi – Future pathways’.

Te Ara Paerangi outlines the Government’s policy agenda for the future of New Zealand’s science and research system. The aim of this document is to promote a conversation about what Aotearoa needs for a modern, future-focussed research system and how best to make it happen.

“The current science system in Aotearoa New Zealand is 30 years old,” said Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie, Director of Ageing Well.

“Te Ara Paerangi provides us with an opportunity to consciously shape the future of the science and research sector into an entity that is equitable and resilient.”

The review of the science and research sector has the capacity to alter the scientific landscape for New Zealand, and this significant document covers the wide range of areas, including research priorities, funding, Te Tiriti & Mātauranga, plus the workforce development, institutions, and research infrastructure.

MBIE is seeking feedback from individuals, institutions, and sector-aligned organisations until the close of the consultation period on 2 March, 2022. There are multiple ways in which you can participate in the process: through webinars and workshops, or via written submissions.

Ageing Well will be preparing a response for submission in the coming months and Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie encourages everyone engaged in the science, research, and education sector to take the time to provide feedback.

“In order to achieve something a science sector that works for all New Zealanders, we need to make our voices heard,” said Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie.


Read the full Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways document here.

Written submissions can be emailed to MBIE at

Filed under: Publications

Awards, Honours, and Promotions

Ageing Well wishes to congratulate the team at the James Henare Māori Research Centre for winning the Waipapa Taumata Rau/University of Auckland Research Excellence Medal.

Led by Ageing Well Principal Investigator, Associate Professor Marama Muru-Lanning, the team won the award for numerous research projects centred on the experience of kaumātua and kuia.

Two Ageing Well-funded projects guided by Associate Professor Muru-Lanning were Phase 1 ‘Ngā Kaumātua, ō Mātou Taonga’ – a health feasibility study in Te Tai Tokerau, and Phase 2 ‘Mā mua ka kite a muri; mā muri ka ora a mua’ which investigates intergenerational support for kaumātua health in two Tai Tokerau communities, using a kaupapa Māori approach.

Congratulations to Associate Professor Muru-Lanning and to the team on such a wonderful honour.

Associate Professor Marama Muru-Lanning


We also wish to congratulate our International Science Advisory Panel member, Professor Angus Hikairo Macfarlane, on being made a Fellow of the New Zealand Psychological Society.

Earlier in the year, Professor Macfarlane was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday honours for his services to education, psychology and Māori.

He is currently Professor of Māori Research at the University of Canterbury, and his own research focuses on exploring Indigenous and sociocultural imperatives that influence education and psychology. 

The Ageing Well whānau wishes to congratulate Professor Macfarlane on the most recent honour for his long-standing dedication to his work. 

Professor Macfarlane


The team also would like to congratulate Dr Hamish Jamieson on being promoted to Associate Professor at the University of Otago, Christchurch. 

Associate Professor Hamish Jamieson is a medical specialist in older persons health and is the clinical leader of the Big Data and Better Ageing Research Group. He is an Ageing Well Principal Investigator Ageing Well projects have included Phase 1 Risk Factors in Reduced Social Engagement (as co-PI with Dr Sally Keeling) and Drug Burden Index, and Phase 2 Reducing Social Isolation with Big Data

Associate Professor Hamish Jamieson

Filed under: Awards

Webinar: Pathways between research, policy, and practice

Ageing Well and A Better Start National Science Challenges are pleased to support the forthcoming webinar hosted by Healthier Lives National Science Challenge.

The webinar, entitled “Pathways between research, policy, and practice”, will be held online on Wednesday, 17 November, 2021.

Discussions will investigate how these pathways connect in other countries and settings, and how they could be streamlined in Aotearoa’s new health system. The aim of the webinar is to start a conversation about the potential for the new health system to deliver better, and more equitable, outcomes for non-communicable diseases through more systematic use of research evidence and health data.

Dr Ayesha Verrall, Minister for Seniors and Associate Minister for Health, will be presenting, in addition to experts from all across Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally.

Register for the free webinar here.

Filed under: Events

Ageing Well Newsletter – Issue 4, 2021

Ageing Well Director Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie and Co-Director Professor David Baxter

In the fourth issue of the Ageing Well Newsletter for 2021, we feature:

  • An update from the Directors of Ageing Well, Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie and Professor David Baxter
  • A wrap up of the recent Vision for Ageing in Aotearoa Conference
  • ISAP member receives honour
  • Celebrating the International Day of Older Persons 2021
  • Research spotlight: the Kaumātua Mana Motuhake Project
  • Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2021
  • Ageing Well researchers in the media
  • Update from our ACTIVATION program
  • Welcome to our new subscribers, and more.

Read these articles in Ageing Well’s newsletter – Issue 4.

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Sign up here and we’ll send you periodic updates on what is happening at Ageing Well.

Filed under: Newsletter

Research Spotlight: Kaumātua Mana Motuhake

The Kaumātua Mana Motuhake Project:
empowering older Māori through peer education

word cloud for the KMM project

The Kaumātua Mana Motuhake Project project sought to address the mana motuhake (identity, autonomy) of kaumātua (older Māori aged 55 or older). It investigated the health outcomes of a ‘tuakana-teina’ (mentoring) peer-educator model, and result in evidence-based interventions to meet social and health needs of kaumātua and their whānau.

Led by Ageing Well Principal Investigator, Professor Brendan Hokowhitu of the University of Waikato, one of the innvovative aspects of this research was the research team partnering with the Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust (RKCT). This partnership meant that KRCT was directly involved in the research, and they worked side-by-side with the research team. 

Read more about the project in our Research Spotlight on the Kaumātua Mana Motuhake Project here or on the PDF reader below. 


The team has expanded their research in their Ageing Well Phase 2 funded programme, entitled ‘Kaumātua Mana Motuhake Poi’. For more information about the KMM Poi programme, please visit the KMM Poi website

Filed under: Research

Vision for Ageing in Aotearoa 2021

Screenshot of the Conference website

The ‘Vision for Ageing in Aotearoa’ Conference, hosted jointly by Age Concern NZ and New Zealand Association of Gerontology, has wrapped up for 2021. Ageing Well was proud to be a gold sponsor of the two-day, action-packed event, sponsoring the Physical strand of research discussions as well as the Networking event for Early Career Researchers.

The conference event featured Keynotes from Distinguished Professor Emeritus Paul Spoonley, Professor Vanessa Burholt, and Dr Makarena Dudley, along with discussion panels, specialist speakers, and Ageing Well researchers who all generously shared their knowledge with the conference attendees across a wide range of subjects.

The Minister for Seniors, Honourable Dr Ayesha Verrall, gave the opening address at the conference and used this opportunity to announce the Government’s ‘Better Later Life Action Plan’. The Plan will help the Government deliver on their strategy, launched in 2019 to improve the lives of older people in New Zealand, that has been greatly impacted by COVID-19.

With the percentage of the New Zealand population aged 65 or older expected to more than double by 2034, the Action Plan pays particular attention to issues around housing, digital inclusion, and employment. For more information about Action Plan, please visit the Office for Seniors website.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Vision for Ageing in Aotearoa Conference had to be rescheduled twice, so the team at Ageing Well wishes to thank Age Concern NZ and the New Zealand Association of Gerontology or hosting such a professional, informative, and engaging event online.

We look forward to the next event in 2022!

Filed under: Events

International Day of Older Persons 2021

Ageing Well is proud to celebrate the United Nations (UN) International Day of the Older Person 2021.

Celebrated on October 1 every year, the theme for 2021 is digital equity for all ages. This hopes to raise awareness of the the divide and to encourage the inclusion and participation of people of all ages in the digital world.

The rapid technological innovation that has occurred in the last few decades has altered the way we operate as humans and how we relate to each other. But this innovation has not been equitable: the average of the population in developed nations who are online is 87%, whereas it is 19% in the least developed countries.

The UN hopes that IDOP2021 will spark opportunities for “availability, connectivity, design, affordability, capacity building, infrastructure, and innovation” to address this. 

The team at Ageing Well celebrated the day by listening to the speakers at the Vision for Ageing in Aotearoa Conference and doing our bit to raise awareness on social media.

Find out more about IDOP2021 and why digital equity matters.
Filed under: Events

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2021

Ageing Well – Kia eke kairangi ki te taikaumātuatanga was proud to participate in Te Wiki o te Reo Māo  – Māori Language Week during the week of 13-19 September.

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori is the annual campaign led by the Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (The Māori Language Commission) to get more New Zealanders speaking, hearing, and experiencing te reo Māori.

We were proud to join other organisations and individuals all over Aotearoa who committed to learning new kupu to keep the language strong. Also, we enjoyed learning kupu for brain research and health contexts from our friends Brain Research New Zealand. 

Here are the six kupu and rerenga kupu the team at Ageing Well thought would be helpful to learn that fit well with the work we do ensuring all New Zealanders age well.

Ageing Well Kupu and Kupu Rerenga

Kia eke kairangi ki te taikaumātuatanga – to be held in high esteem in older age

Kia eke kairangi ki te taikaumātuatanga – to be held in high esteem in older age

Harikoa – joy, happiness, delight or to be joyful, happy, delighted

Harikoa – joy, happiness, delight or to be joyful, happy, delighted

Pūmahara – thoughtful, learned, wise, astute

Pūmahara – thoughtful, learned, wise, astute

Ka eke anō i te puke ki Ruahine – She/he is climbing the mountain of Ruahine, meaning that she/he is growing older

Ka eke anō i te puke ki Ruahine - She/he is climbing the mountain of Ruahine, meaning that she/he is growing older

kia ora i te ora – to live life

kia ora i te ora – to live life

He aha te kai a te rangatira? He kōrero, he kōrero, he kōrero – What is the food of a leader? It is knowledge, it is communication.

He aha te kai a te rangatira? He kōrero, he kōrero, he kōrero - What is the food of a leader? It is knowledge, it is communication.

For further resources to incorporate more te reo into your daily life, visit Reo Māori.

Filed under: Navigation