Category: Funding

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

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

Prestigious PhD Scholarships

Announcing Prestigious PhD Scholarships for Māori and Pacific Research

Ageing Well National Science Challenge is pleased to announce the funding for three prestigious PhD scholarships, two for Māori candidates and one for a Pacific candidate, with the twin aims of developing research capacity and building excellent research into ageing well for Māori and Pacific peoples. 

Research on issues related to Māori and Pacific Peoples’ ageing funded through these Prestigious Scholarships will help to build upon and expand the scope and potential impacts from the Ageing Well National Science Challenge, while ensuring new researchers and ideas are incorporated into the Challenge’s work. Ageing Well is committed to supporting the development of Māori and Pacific research capability, and to advancing Vision Mātauranga, and to fund research that will have equitable outcomes for diverse communities.

“We are thrilled to announce these Prestigious PhD scholarships to support and encourage the career development of Māori and Pacific researchers,” said Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie, Director of Ageing Well.

“Ageing Well is committed to equitable outcomes for diverse communities and opportunities such the Prestigious PhD Scholarships are just one of the ways in which we champion the voices of Māori and Pacific people in science and research. These scholars bring unique skills and knowledge that are needed to address the biggest health and wellbeing opportunities for older New Zealanders,” she said.

The Prestigious Scholarships are available to Māori and Pacific candidates, who already hold a PhD scholarship, and who are, or are about to be, enrolled in their PhD course. The Prestigious Scholarship will provide funding on top of the existing scholarship, up to an additional 50% of the existing scholarship stipend. Scholarships may be either full-time or part-time, but the Scholarship and funding must end on or before 31 March 2024.

“Researchers help communities discover the answers to issues that affect them. Successful mission-led research occurs when the researcher has an established, enduring relationship with the community or is a member of it,” said Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie.

Quote from Ageing Well Director, Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie.

The closing date for applications is 28 January, 2021.


For further information about the application process, please visit our Funding Opportunities tab or read the Funding Guidelines [PDF].

For an application, please download the Ageing Well Application Form [DOC].

Filed under: 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

Emergent Opportunities Funding

Ageing Well National Science Challenge is pleased to announce the awarding of  “Emergent Opportunities” grants. The Emergent Opportunities grants were established to provide funding for unexpected research ideas that have been identified from Ageing Well projects in Phase One. While the projects must develop ideas, methodologies, tools or technologies that emerged from Phase One projects, the proposed projects must also align with the Ageing Well Phase Two Focus Areas: Health and Well-being in Ageing and Ageing and Māori.

Each project award is for up to $200,000, for a period of 12 months. Four projects have been funded under the Health and Well-being in Ageing focus area and one under the Ageing and Māori focus area. 


Associate Professor Michal Boyd, University of Auckland – School of Nursing
Developing an early warning system to recognise resident deterioration in residential aged care.

This work extends on the “Neurodegeneration and Individualised Interventions” project which used a co-design approach to develop the Frailty Care Guides. These guides were successfully completed and have recently been disseminated nationally. The current project seeks to complement the Frailty Care Guides by developing an evidence-based and user-friendly, Early Warning System (EWS) for early identification of residential deterioration in residential aged care (RAC). Currently, no systematic EWS exists for RAC in New Zealand.

Dr Ofa Dewes, University of Auckland – School of Nursing
Building connections as we age: From younger carers to societies.

This intergenerational family caring phenomenon was identified as a significant area for future research in Dr Dewe’s Phase One project, “Tāpinga ‘a Maama: Pacific Life and Death in Advanced Age.” The current project aims to provide new evidence-based information to address the needs of younger carers caring for older adults to support the development of more effective and efficient provisions of responsive healthcare and social support services. This should produce better health, education and employment outcomes.

Professor Merryn Gott & Dr Lisa Williams, University of Auckland – School of Nursing
Promoting social connection through challenging public attitudes: a participatory project with older people.
The Phase One project, “Social Isolation and Loneliness” explored older people’s understanding and experience of loneliness, social isolation and social connection within the culturally diverse context of New Zealand. This resulted in a 5 minute animation titled Elder Birdsong  incorporating the research core themes. The current project aims to co-create with older people and middle school students a film about later life loneliness and social connectedness, focusing on the potential value of inter-generational social connection.

Dr Hamish Jamieson, University of Otago
Reducing social isolation with big data.
“Risk Factors in Reduced Social Engagement” (Phase One project) found many challenging social factors and loneliness in older people, and early entry into aged residential care facilities. The current project will apply more sophisticated research techniques to look for longitudinal patterns and possible causal relationships leading to the risk factors identified in the Phase One project. Findings from this project will have the potential to be used to modify the care plans of the 120,000 older New Zealanders who have an assessment using the interRAI.


Dr Catherine Love & Mr Charles Waldegrave, Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit
He Huarahi Whakapakari Kaumātuatanga: A Kaumātua future proofing tool.

From the Phase One “Loneliness and Isolation” project it was found that while loneliness as measured on a standard international scale, captures universal aspects of loneliness, it does not capture Māori specific aspects. As a consequence, service planning and policy setting may be working from imprecise evidence. The current project will develop an innovative “Kaumātua Future Proofing Tool” using the quantitative evidence from the Phase One research and some co-created qualitative research. This tool will provide an evidence-based checklist for people, organisations and Ministers designing services for a growing ageing Māori population.

Filed under: 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 and Māori Funding


In June 2019, Ageing Well National Science Challenge was allocated $20.3M in funding as part of the second phase of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) research investment. Over the next five years (July 2019 – June 2024), Ageing Well will utilise this funding to address two focus areas of research: Health and Wellbeing in Ageing and Ageing and Māori. The Health and Wellbeing in Ageing research will provide older New Zealanders with the opportunities and tools to support their own physical and mental abilities.  The Ageing and Māori research will contribute to positive Māori ageing through Māori-led research undertaken in collaboration with key stakeholders. 

Ageing Well allocated $10M in 2019 to fund research programmes in these two focus areas. This funding was distributed equally between the Health and Wellbeing in Ageing and Ageing and Māori research areas. Dr Louise Parr-Brownlie, Co-Director Māori, confirmed that “Ageing Well is committed to equitable outcomes for kaumātua. We have invested half of our funding into programmes that will support positive Māori ageing. This is critical because the number of older Māori will more than double in the next 20 years.”

Today, Ageing Well is delighted to announce the awarding of $5M towards the Ageing and Maōri programme of research. The Director of Ageing Well, A/Prof Debra Waters, said “I am thrilled the Challenge is funding two high quality programmes of research that will positively impact Māori kaumātua and their whānau both now and into the future.”

Tai Kaumātuatanga Older Māori Wellbeing and Participation: Present and Future Focus
Dr Catherine Love – Programme Leader
$2.5M (2019-2023)

As the number of older Māori increases there is a need to develop more information about their strengths and vulnerabilities. This research, through a country wide survey asking kaumātua about their experiences and quality of life, and a two year follow up, aims to provide information for policy formation, environmental planning and culturally responsive services. This survey will also be complemented by an in-depth qualitative study that asks them about their lives as kaumātua and their understanding of their roles, inter-generational relationships and the knowledge they pass on. The research will be co-designed with them to ensure that it can be of the most use to them and the groups they belong to. The research findings will contribute to better service provision and strengthen kaumātuatanga and kaumātua contribution to whānau and the country. 

Kaumātua Mana Motuhake Pōi: Enhancing Wellbeing, Social Connectedness and Cultural Identity
Professor Brendan Hokowhitu – Programme Leader
$2.5M (2019-2023)

This research aims to build on kaumātua strengths to enhance hauora (holistic approach to health) and mana motuhake (autonomy, identity and self-determination) through collaborative research network including academic and community researchers, kaumātua service providers and other stakeholders.  Two health research projects will be conducted: i)  a tuakana-teina peer educator model where kaumātua help other kaumātua in need to identify and utilise key health and social services and ii) an inter-generational model for increasing physical activity and cultural knowledge exchange including te reo Māori. The projects include co-design and co-implementation processes with kaumātua, kaumātua service providers and other health and social service experts. Hauora and mana motuhake will be measured before and after the projects are implemented. The anticipated impacts include the creation of culturally appropriate and sustainable projects that support kaumātua to age well.

Congratulations to the research teams and thank you to our community for your continued support. 

Filed under: Funding

Funding Announcement

Health and Well-being in Ageing

group of elderly

In November 2018, we announced the successful refunding of the Ageing Well National Science Challenge through to 2024. We were awarded $20.3 million to continue our work, specifically focusing on two research areas: Health and Wellbeing in Ageing and Ageing and Maori.

prof ngaire kerse Today we are delighted to announce that $5 million of funding has been awarded to the Ageing Well through Eating, Sleeping, Socialising and Mobility Programme (AWESSoM) headed by Professor Ngaire Kerse from the University of Auckland. Professor Kerse is the Joyce Cook Chair in Ageing Well and continues to be a tireless advocate for healthy and positive ageing. The AWESSoM programme is being funded under the Health and Wellbeing in Ageing research area of the Ageing Well National Science Challenge.

AWESSoM is a timely addition to the area of health and wellbeing in ageing, featuring a comprehensive approach to understanding ageing by investigating the areas of mobility, oral health, healthy sleep, eating and socialising. Doing so within a whānau co-designed programme in health, combining western and Mātauranga Māori knowledge and practice.

Together, AWESSoM and Ageing Well look forward to embarking on new and exciting ways of doing science in the area of ageing in New Zealand. We are particularly excited about the behavioural change tool, the LifeCurve™ app, a component of the AWESSom programme.  This app will be developed, tested and adapted for Māori, Pacific and Pakeha to assist in preventing the progression of disability by identifying older people with poor oral health, cognitive impairment and trial a comprehensive intervention in care homes.  

The programme will be trialled with a diverse population of older people with the aim of providing older New Zealanders the opportunities and tools to support their own physical and mental abilities. It also acknowledges the importance of adequate support for whānau who are involved in the care of their kaumātua. We are confident that the community-driven approach and the partnerships with community and health care organisations in this programme will ensure the best chance of success and impact.

The Director of Ageing Well National Science Challenge, Associate Professor Debra Waters describes this as, “an exciting programme of research building from Tranche 1 research and researchers while bringing additionality and refresh to the Challenge through new research ideas and researchers coming into the Ageing Well Challenge for the first time.”

The AWESSoM team consists of teams from the University of Auckland, University of Otago, Tū Ora Compass Health, Allied Health Scientific and Technical Bay of Plenty District Health Board, The Centre for Health, Massey University, Auckland University of Technology, and Newcastle University in the UK. This is a wonderful reflection of the multi-disciplinary and collaborative research that the National Science Challenges were set up to promote.

Congratulations once again to the AWESSoM team. Ageing Well are incredibly excited for our next phase of innovative research in the area of ageing and making a difference to the ageing landscape in New Zealand and internationally. To our community, we thank you for your continued support and look forward to sharing with you the great work we aim to complete in the next five years.

Filed under: Funding

Ministry grants supporting age-friendly communities

From Office For Seniors Webpage:

The Office for Seniors’ Community Connects fund supports communities to become Age-friendly.

The fund targets projects to promote the inclusion and contribution of older people in community life, and support their community to prepare for an ageing population.

Find out more about Age-friendly communities here.

You can apply for funding to either:

  • start development of an Age-friendly Communities Plan, or
  • implement an Age-friendly Community project.

Grants have a value up to $15,000 (the fund has an annual budget of $100,000). All funded activities funded must be completed within 12 months.

There are up to two grant rounds each financial year.

The current round will open in February and close on 7 April.

Further information

Please visit the Office for Seniors website

Filed under: Funding

Challenge refunded through to 2024!


Ageing Well National Science Challenge
University of Otago
PO BOX 56, Dunedin

Monday 19 November 2018



Following the conclusion of the MBIE Mid-Way Review, Ageing Well is delighted and honoured to report that the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation has endorsed the release of $20.3M in funding for our next five years of research (July 2019-June 2024). In a media statement published on Saturday, Minister Dr Megan Woods said that all 11 Challenges are “delivering excellent, collaborative, research programmes” which are “fundamentally changing the culture of how science is being undertaken in New Zealand.” The positive outcome of the Mid-Way Review enables Ageing Well to continue at full steam with our next funding round, which is already well advanced (see below).

The Chair of Ageing Well, Dr Dianne McCarthy (CNZM, CRSNZ), noted that this decision validates the “world class, collaborative research that has been undertaken by the Challenge over the last five years.” Ageing Well commissioned 15 research projects in its first five years, which provided a breadth of studies on topics as diverse as supporting older Māori (kaumātua), using community-based exercise and nutrition to combat frailty, harnessing big data to predict falls risks, and using electrical stimulation to aid stroke recovery. Projects have produced many publications, informed policies at many levels of government, and even secured additional funding for future research.      

The second tranche of funding “empowers” Ageing Well to continue to make inroads into achieving our mission, said Challenge Director Prof. David Baxter. After extensive consultation, Ageing Well is focusing its future funding on two Focus Areas: Health and Wellbeing in Ageingand Ageing and Māori.  Currently, there is a call for Expressions of Interest for thematic research programmes that can address the research priorities of these Focus Areas. The Challenge is also holding a series of Roadshows around the country in late November and early December to answer questions about the funding round and its future strategic direction. (Full details can be found on our website.)

Ageing Well looks forward to another fruitful five years of groundbreaking research and stakeholder engagement, and we encourage all interested parties to follow our progress on our website, via our social media platforms, or in our newsletter.

AWNSC_Media_Release_Mid-Way-Review_Outcome [PDF]

Further Information          

Media enquiries about the Review process can be directed to Beck Kraakman of MBIE: (021 823 048).

Filed under: Funding, Office

Call for Expressions of Interest

Expression of Interest: Guidelines & Application Form


Ageing Well is pleased to announce a call for Expressions of Interest as part of our Tranche 2, which will start in July 2019, subject to Government refunding the Challenge. Our future research will centre around two Focus Areas: Health and Wellbeing; and Ageing and Māori.


For more information, please check out our How to Apply page.


More details to follow.
Filed under: Funding, Research

Catalyst: Leaders

On behalf of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the Royal Society of New Zealand has opened the third call for Catalyst: Leaders.

Catalyst: Leaders supports incoming and outgoing targeted international fellowships for exceptional individuals that cannot be supported through other means.

For further information visit Royal Society of New Zealand Website.

Filed under: Funding

$3.25m in new projects for Ageing Well NSC in Māori and Pacific Peoples

Dr Dianne McCarthy CRSNZ CNZM, Acting Chair of Ageing Well National Science Challenge has announced today new funding of $3.25 million for four innovative research projects to be conducted as part of the Ageing Well National Science Challenge (NSC).

In recognition of the specific challenges and opportunities faced by Māori and Pacific Peoples to age well, the focus of this Ageing Well NSC 2016 Contestable Funding Round was research that investigated aspects of ageing that are prevalent for these groups of people.

The four successful projects look at areas across all stages of life, including intergenerational relationships, and experiences of the older generations, and are led by researchers from universities and community agencies.

Ageing Well Director Professor Dave Baxter commented that he was delighted with the quality and quantity of the applications received through the Contestable Round, and welcomed the outcome which represented a significant funding boost to this area of research.

The successful projects were:

Kaumatua mana motuhake: Kaumatua managing life transitions through tuakana-teina/peer education, Professor Brendan Hokowhitu, Waikato University $915,000;

The research seeks to address the mana motuhake (identity, autonomy) of kaumātua (older Māori aged 55 or older). It will investigate 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 whanau.

Pacific Islands Families: Healthy Pacific Grandparents (PIF:HPG) Study, Dr El-Shadan (Dan) Tautolo, Auckland University of Technology, $940,000;

This study will use participatory action research methods to understand what factors older Pacific people consider important for their wellbeing, and how those factors can improve in social and health system settings. Participant-proposed solutions and action plans will be developed and implemented, to enhance the wellbeing of older Pacific people

Tapinga ‘a Maama’: Pacific Life and Death in Advanced Age, Dr Ofa Dewes, University of Auckland, $450,000;

Pacific older adults currently have high levels of unmet need and poor access to palliative care while dying. This study draws on Pacific health models to provide urgently-needed information on Pacific people’s experiences in palliative care, and the experiences and challenges faced by their aiga who carry out the bulk of their care. The research will improve end-of-life care for older Pacific People.

Loneliness and Social Isolation among Older Maori and Pacific People: Critical processes, events and mitigating factors, Mr Charles Waldegrave and Taimalieutu Kiwi Tamasese, Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit (FCSPRU) and Professor Chris Cunningham, Massey University, $945,000.

The aim of this project is to enable early detection of pathways that lead to loneliness and social isolation for older Māori and Pacific people in NZ, and the mitigating factors that will facilitate social connection and enduring relationships during old age. Better-targeted services and policies will improve the quality of life of older Māori and Pacific people and increase the cost-effectiveness of services.

The Ageing Well National Science Challenge, was launched in March 2015, with a vision to push back disability thresholds to enable all New Zealanders to reach their full potential through life, with particular emphasis on the latter years of life. Following the March launch nine projects were funded that covered topics ranging from housing tenancy, frailty and lifestyle interventions, and innovative approaches for stroke prevention and recovery. These projects are currently underway.

The National Science Challenge for Ageing Well is funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, and represents a strategic partnership between the Universities of Otago, Auckland, Canterbury, Massey, Waikato, Victoria and AUT, together with the Centre for Research Evaluation and Social Assessment, and Ag Research.

Filed under: Funding

Ageing well the focus for National Science Challenge

From left: Professor Jim Metson, Chief Science Adviser for MBIE; Professor Peter Crampton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences); Hon Steven Joyce, Science and Innovation Minister; Professor Richard Blaikie, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise); and Professor David Baxter, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences). Photo: Sharron Bennett.

Researchers from across New Zealand are joining forces for the latest National Science Challenge called Ageing Well – Kia eke kairangi ki te taikaumātuatanga.

The National Science Challenges, initiated through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, are designed to tackle New Zealand’s biggest science-based issues and challenges.

The Ageing Well challenge is to be led through its establishment phase by Professor David Baxter, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Physiotherapy at the University of Otago, and will be administered out of the School’s Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research. It will be partnered by other New Zealand universities including Auckland, Massey, AUT, Waikato, Canterbury, and Victoria, as well as AgResearch and the Centre for Research, Evaluation and Social Assessment (CRESA) in Wellington.

“We are delighted to be at the forefront of this innovative and important National Science Challenge that we hope will ultimately benefit the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders through adding life to years,” says Professor Baxter.

Funding of up to $14.6 million to June 2019 has been approved subject to contract conditions.

The Challenge will support high-quality, mission-led, interdisciplinary research focussed on five key strands:

  • Enabling independence and autonomy/tino rangatiratanga of older individuals and their whānau and families
  • Ensuring a meaningful life through social integration and engagement
  • Recognising at a societal level the value of ongoing contributions of knowledge and experience of older people
  • Reducing disability, and
  • Developing age-friendly environments.

Professor Richard Blaikie, Otago’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) and co-Chair of the oversight group for the Challenge, emphasises the need for strong inter-institutional collaboration to achieve the Challenge’s 10-year mission.

“If we are going to realise the longevity dividend from having a healthy, independent and socially-connected aged population in Aotearoa then we must have the best minds from the research community and aged care sector working together on the most pressing research questions, finding practical solutions that can be applied in clinical or community settings” he says.

“No single institution has all the expertise or end-user connections that are needed, and Otago is very proud to be taking the lead in coordinating the national effort in this particular Challenge”.

Professor Baxter says people are living longer now, with life expectancy in New Zealand having gone up by around 20 years since 1901, pushing life expectancy for men into the late 70s and women to the low 80s.

“In addition, the share of the total population that is at older ages is increasing. This ‘structural ageing’ is mainly due to declining birth rates and in about a decade people aged 65 and over will exceed the number of children under 15 years of age for the first time in New Zealand’s history.”

While Māori and Pacific peoples are still a youthful population in structural terms, the gap to non-Māori in terms of life expectancy is closing, lifting the proportion of older people across the board.

Professor Baxter says this means that issues related to the health and wellbeing of older people will become more prominent in the lives of families and communities.

“Over coming decades, the number of people with degenerative conditions such as dementia, arthritis, cerebrovascular disease and frailty will increase significantly. Furthermore, growing numbers of older people experiencing social isolation, reduced economic participation, and increasing vulnerability to poverty and sub-optimal living conditions will pose additional challenges.”

Research conducted by the Ageing Well Challenge will focus on these trends, identifying ways to delay the onset and reduce the impact of these conditions.

“We will work with stakeholders on ways to enable health, wellbeing and contributions of older people, right into the later years of life.”

For further information, contact

Professor David Baxter
Dean of the School of Physiotherapy
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 7411
Email or

Filed under: Funding, Office