Category: Collaborations

Partnership to Co-fund Equity-focused Research

The Ageing Well National Science Challenge has partnered with the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) to co-fund vital research into addressing health inequities for ageing Māori.

Two projects have been funded through this collaborative effort to improve specific areas of inequity, including co-designing effective injury rehabilitation, addressing barriers to accessing ACC services, as well as improving injury prevention initiatives.

The partnership is pleased to announce the 2020 ACC-HRC Achieving equity for ageing Māori Request for Proposals (RFP) recipients:

Ms Katrina Bryant
Te Runanga o Otakou

Research title
Taurite Tū – achieving equitable injury prevention outcomes for ageing Māori.

Lay summary
Falls is a leading cause of injury and leads to major impacts for ageing Māori. ACC acknowledge there are inequities for older Māori accessing injury prevention and rehabilitative services.

Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou (TRO) in collaboration with University of Otago falls and injury prevention researchers, have developed an effective falls prevention template for ageing Māori, Taurite Tū. Taurite Tū research outcomes demonstrate statistically significant improvement in falls risk and positive engagement of Māori community.

TRO intends to further investigate how the Taurite Tū template can be further used as a platform for ACC towards broadly achieving equitable outcomes in other areas of Aotearoa for ageing Māori in injury prevention, improve access to ACC services and to injury rehabilitative services. As with the original Taurite Tū research, the proposed research will be guided by evidence-based, physiotherapy research findings, mātauraka Māori and use Kaupapa Māori Research methodology.

Ms Joanna Hikaka
The University of Auckland

Research title
Whaioranga te Pā Harakeke – Iwi-driven injury prevention and recovery for Māori

Lay summary
Māori older adults are more likely to experience injury than non-Māori, yet less likely to effectively access ACC prevention/rehabilitation services, further increasing inequities in health outcomes.

This project will use paeārahi (health navigators) who come from their own iwi and are upskilled to facilitate health delivery. This project will expand their roles to address injury prevention (e.g. falls exercises), ACC service access, and recovery and rehabilitation. It will use local knowledge and networks, and mātauranga Māori. Local hauora providers will facilitate paeārahi integration with older Māori communities across Te Arawa iwi boundaries. Access, activity and wellbeing outcomes will be tracked over time and paeārahi sustainability will be established.

This project aims to build an evidence-base to support enhanced Māori older adult access/engagement with ACC services, and identify iwi-designed solutions to increase ACC responsiveness to Māori older adults with potential benefits for individual, whānau, hapū and iwi.

Fore more information, please visit our Ageing and Maori research focus section.

Filed under: Collaborations, Funding

Announcing the Lifecourse Project

$1.5 million funding for research into the impact of Chronic Disease on New Zealand Families.

The lifelong impact of chronic diseases on New Zealand families is at the centre of a major new research programme.

Three of the government’s National Science Challenges – A Better Start, Healthier Lives and Ageing Well – are collaborating to develop a research project aimed at identifying opportunities for improving the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders at every stage of life. It will have a particular focus on addressing equitable outcomes for Māori and Pacific people.

The two-year research project, ‘Lifecourse impact of chronic health conditions; a family and whānau perspective(the Lifecourse project), will help understand the wider benefits of chronic disease prevention, and determine what makes some New Zealand communities thrive despite living with chronic disease. It will also help lay the groundwork for studies in other communities.

Specifically, the Lifecourse project will:

  • investigate the impact of chronic disease on the wider whānau at different life stages – from childhood and youth through to adulthood, as well as the later years of life
  • undertake an in-depth qualitative study of Tokelauan families to assess the family, household and community strengths that allow people in these communities to thrive despite the challenges of living in families with chronic disease. (The NZ Tokelau population has high health needs but has seldom been the focus of research to address their health issues.)
  • develop a framework for assessing the power of a kaupapa Māori early life and whānau programme, Te Kura Mai i Tawhiti, to transform Māori outcomes throughout the different life stages.
  • develop a whakapapa-centred framework for undertaking intergenerational wellbeing research with hapū and iwi.

The Lifecourse project aligns with the goals of the three National Science Challenges, with each Challenge contributing $500,000 – with a total project funding of $1.5 million.

Text on white background with the words The Lifecourse Project, surrounded by the logos of the three National Science Challenges cofunding it: A Better Start, Healthier Lives, and Ageing Well.

Professor Wayne Cutfield, Director of A Better Start, says the vision of the Lifecourse project is to improve the lives and livelihoods of families with chronic disease sufferers by identifying areas in which they need support, and factors which promote their success.

“We will achieve this by undertaking research with families of a chronic disease sufferer, and developing and implementing interventions to improve their wellbeing,” Professor Cutfield says.

Professor Jim Mann, Director of Healthier Lives, says life-course research is essential to the understanding of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which account for much of the ill-health that occurs in middle-aged and older people.

“That’s because potentially preventable causes of these diseases are often present, detectable and modifiable early in life, before diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease and cancer develop,” Professor Mann says.

“Life-course approaches to tackling chronic diseases are essential to inform health and wellbeing policies and programmes that make a lifelong difference for all New Zealanders.”

Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie, Director of Ageing Well, describes the Lifecourse project as an extraordinary opportunity to collaborate on research that stretches over the whole course of a lifetime.

“As an organisation that is committed to ensuring all New Zealanders age well, it was very important to us that an equity lens was applied by the research team,” Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie says.  

The Māori and Pacific-led projects will explore life-course and intergenerational perspectives of health through childhood, household, community and iwi-led whakapapa projects.”

The Lifecourse project will be led by Dr Barry Milne at the University of Auckland. He says it is fantastic that the three health-focused National Science Challenges have come together to fund a project to help understand what leads to thriving people and communities.

“We plan to focus on improving the lives of people with chronic conditions, and to understand the impact of these chronic conditions on the lives and life-courses of their whānau – their children, their partners and carers, their elders, and their wider households,” Dr Milne says.

“The Lifecourse project includes community and iwi-led development of novel kaupapa Māori research methods to investigate the life-course and inter-generational elements of hauora Māori.”

Pacific communities will also be a strong focus of the Lifecourse project.

“We welcome this challenge for Pacific engagement and active participation in a family-focused life-course approach to achieve better health and wellbeing outcomes now and into the future,” says Pacific health researcher Dr Ofa Dewes, who is a co-principal investigator on the project.

“For Pacific, the research will be consistent with our world views – community-oriented, culturally-centred, holistic, and expansive.”


A Better Start, Healthier Lives and Ageing Well are among 11 National Science Challenges. Their focus is on health and wellbeing research. They are funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. See below for more information on each Challenge:

A Better Start – E Tipu e Rea is a national collaborative research programme working to help children, teenagers and their families achieve the best possible start in life. Our job is to find practical, evidence-based solutions that make a measurable difference for tamariki, specifically in the areas of Healthy Weight, Successful Learning & Literacy, and Mental Resilience. A Better Start works closely with communities, drawing together indigenous and Western approaches to knowledge, and bringing the best researchers from different disciplines here and overseas to take a holistic approach rather than address health, wellbeing and learning issues in isolation.

Healthier Lives – He Oranga Hauora is a national collaborative research programme, investigating innovative approaches to the prevention and treatment of four major non-communicable diseases – cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Healthier Lives is hosted by the University of Otago. Our vision: Aotearoa New Zealand with equitable health outcomes and a substantially reduced burden of non-communicable diseases.

Ageing Well – Kia eke kairangi ki te taikaumātuatanga is a national research collaboration with the goal of adding life to years for all older New Zealanders. Ageing Well brings together internationally recognised science and research leaders in multidisciplinary teams to investigate some of the most important ageing-related issues. Ageing Well is committed to leading transformational change in the NZ science and research sector. The organisation is Māori-led with half of its Focus Area research funding (2019-2024) committed to investigate the ageing experience in Māori and Pacific communities.

Filed under: Collaborations, Funding

ACTIVATION PhD Scholarship

A fully-funded PhD Scholarship is available with the Activating Change Through Interventions for Active Travel in our Neighbourhoods (ACTIVATION) project, which is co-funded by the Ageing Well and Healthier Lives National Science Challenges.

The ACTIVATION project is investigating how moving to higher density central city environments in Ōtautahi (Christchurch) changes people’s travel practices and affects their health and wellbeing.

There is considerable scope to develop the PhD project in areas of mutual interest to the successful candidate and the wider research programme.  Proposals that align with the following research objectives are particularly welcomed:

  • Investigate Māori design frameworks for city regeneration
  • Investigate the mobility experiences of older adults who move to the central city.

The successful applicant can be based at the University of Otago in Christchurch or Dunedin but will require regular travel to Christchurch.

The closing date for proposals is Friday, 26 February 2021.

For more details and how to apply, please download the full description [PDF].

Filed under: Collaborations, Funding

Joint Funding Announced

How does active travel help health and wellbeing in New Zealand communities?


From: Ageing Well−Kia eke kairangi ki te taikaumātuatanga and Healthier Lives−He Oranga Hauora National Science Challenges

As the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown or rāhui eases in New Zealand, people are gradually returning to public spaces and workplaces. This provides an opportunity to think about  different transport and travel options that could benefit people as well as the planet.

It is timely that a major new research project has been jointly funded by two of New Zealand’s National Science Challenges – Ageing Well and Healthier Lives – to investigate ways of “retro-fitting” the design of our cities that will encourage more active modes of travel and reduce car dependence.

Prof Karen Witten

A major research collaboration called ACTIVATION*, led by Professor Karen Witten of Massey University and involving researchers from numerous universities and research groups across New Zealand, will investigate the impact of transport and community infrastructure on peoples’ health and wellbeing over four years.

Active travel, such as walking, biking and using public transport, offers effective and equitable ways to increase physical activity across the whole population.

“We know physical activity has important health and wellbeing benefits, but we also know how hard it can be for people to increase their physical activity. Streetscapes that support active travel are important but so are social and cultural environments that encourage physical activity.  It is unknown what the best mix of interventions would be to increase active travel,” says Professor Witten.

“This research seeks to find what combination of interventions (or ‘sweet spots’) might trigger the uptake of active travel behaviour to enhance health and wellbeing. We’ll evaluate several interventions aimed at increasing active travel.”

Two urban sites

Prof Simon Kingham

The ACTIVATION project will receive funding of $2.443 million over four years. It is centred on two different urban sites, one in the North Island at Māngere in South Auckland and the other in the South Island at new developments in central Christchurch.

In Māngere, a community with a high proportion of Pacific and Māori residents, the project will build on an intervention where neighbourhood streets designed for car use have been retro-fitted to prioritise active travel.  The project will work with Safe and Healthy Streets South Auckland (SAHSSA), a collaboration between housing, transport and community agencies. It will be a unique opportunity to investigate the impact of locally co-designed activities aimed at increasing the connectivity of walking and biking infrastructure on residents’ physical activity, social connection and safety.

In Christchurch, research focussed on new higher density city building developments will investigate changes in travel practices associated with moving house to higher density central city living.  Interviews and surveys with residents and stakeholders will explore the factors that ensure success, such as attitude and behaviour change, and regulatory and institutional requirements. The research will inform ways in which transport and housing design can be integrated to encourage active mobility in urban regeneration programmes.

“We will undertake different kinds of research, involving residents, including kaumātua, local champions and service providers, to learn what new interventions fit best with local opportunities and preferences. Once the interventions are implemented, we will measure health and community-related impacts using survey and observational research,” says Professor Simon Kingham, University of Canterbury and Ministry of Transport’s Chief Science Advisor, who will be leading part of the work.

“The research will also provide insights about what enables or frustrates attempts by public agencies to develop neighbourhoods that support active travel,” says Professor Witten.

Two Science Challenges collaborate for stronger outcomes

The two National Science Challenges, Ageing Well and Healthier Lives, are excited to be working together to fund this important research.

“Physical activity promotes healthy ageing,” says Ageing Well Director Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie (Ngāti Maniapoto me Te Arawa). 

“Active travel has important health and wellbeing benefits for individuals and whānau, and may in turn generate collective community-wide benefits of safety, social connectivity and air quality.”

“Physical activity resulting from active travel also has the potential to reduce risk factor for non-communicable diseases,” says Healthier Lives Director Professor Jim Mann.

“Countries around the world are grappling with these issues, in response to an increasing recognition of the link between human wellbeing and environmental sustainability,” he says.

This project is a perfect opportunity to investigate the benefits of active travel for New Zealand communities.

*ACTIVATION  stands for Activating Change through InterVentions for Active Travel in our Neighbourhoods

For further information and photos, please contact:  

Karen Witten,  +64 27 2802090;  Simon Kingham, +64 22 0144956;

or Fleur Templeton,  +64 21 225 4218.

More about Ageing Well – Kia eke kairangi ki te taikaumātuatanga National Science Challenge

Find more information about Ageing Well.

More about Healthier Lives – He Oranga Hauora National Science Challenge

Find more information about Healthier Lives.

Read more about

  • National Science Challenges on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) website.
  • Ageing Well on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) website.
  • Healthier Lives on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) website.

Filed under: Collaborations, Funding

Collaborative Research Partnerships


Collaborative Research Partnerships – Dr Dan Tautolo presents at the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG) Congress

Dr Dan Tautolo, the Principal Investigator of Ageing Well funded Pacific Islands Families research, presented at the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG) Asia Oceania Congress in Taipei, Taiwan. Dr Tautolo spoke about the Pacific Grandparents Study in a talk titled, “Navigating between Islands – fostering connections and engaging older Pacific adults in a collaborative research partnership”.

The presentation summarised the project, focusing on the participatory action research approach. “Our primary focus of utilising culturally appropriate strategies and processes was to engage and develop a co-researcher relationship with our Pacific older people, to ensure that our project identified and addressed the issues which were directly relevant for them”, explains Dr Tautolo.

The presentation generated much interest amongst the audience, particularly around the study design and the need to tailor research to be culturally sensitive in order to improve the likelihood of successful uptake and impact.

Dr Tautolo is hopeful that, “potential international collaborations in ageing research may result from discussions at the conference.”

In addition to being a funding source, Dr Tautolo acknowledged Ageing Well National Science Challenge as a, “mechanism providing the research platform for this kind of research on ageing within Pacific families and communities.”

Dr Louise Parr-Brownlie, Co-Director Māori, Ageing Well National Science Challenge agrees, explaining that “National Science Challenges were developed to ‘do science differently.’ Dr Tautolo’s team co-designed questions and conducted research with Pacific families and their communities in culturally appropriate ways to enhance health outcomes.”

This study has allowed for participant-proposed solutions and action plans to be developed and implemented, to enhance the well-being of older Pacific people. “While the New Zealand Pacific population is quite youthful, there is a growing proportion of older Pacific people, and thus research of this kind will become more and more relevant and important,” he adds. Dr Tautolo, his team and their community of participants are actively demonstrating the benefits of collaborative research partnerships, especially among a population that is often isolated and unheard.

“Ageing Well National Science Challenge funds the best teams to deliver equitable outcomes for New Zealand’s diverse older communities,” Dr Parr-Brownlie added.

Learn more about Dr Tautolo’s Pacific Islands Families research here.

Filed under: Collaborations, Funding

Ageing Well joins Science Challenge collaboration with China

Enlarged China flagAgeing Well National Science Challenge has joined with Healthier Lives, and A Better Start to lead a new research venture with China. The collaboration will focus on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and is called the New Zealand-China Non-Communicable Diseases Collaboration Centre.

A grant of $1.25 million has been made by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Catalyst Fund to establish this research collaboration centre. The Fund supports activities that leverage international science and innovation for New Zealand’s benefit.

The Centre will focus on six themes:

  • Diabetes and obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Rare inherited diseases
  • Big health data
  • Gene-environment factors

China’s large population and comprehensive health data can help progress research into risk, prevention, and treatment of NCDs. New Zealand’s public health and ethics expertise, and innovative research techniques, will provide insight into cost-effective approaches to manage the rapidly increasing medical burden in China.

Ageing Well Director, Professor Dave Baxter, commented that the collaboration brings another strength to achieving the Ageing Well vision to add life to years for all older New Zealanders.

“The scale of China offers many opportunities to assess strategies to reduce the degree of disability that NCDs contribute to, and to enhance the independence, engagement and living environment of our older people.”

The collaboration currently encompasses 219 researchers in 26 institutions and expects to provide opportunities for researchers from across New Zealand.


Filed under: Collaborations