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He Huarahi Whakapakari Kaumātuatanga

Creating a co-created evidence-based checklist to aid in developing services and policies that benefit Māori

Research Team

  • Mr Charles Waldegrave
  • Dr Catherine Love
  • Professor Chris Cunningham
  • Dr Giang Nguyen
  • Shamia Love-Shariff
  • Wayne Makarini
  • Monica Mercury
  • Dr Margaret Wilkie
  • Dr Michele Morris

One of the most telling findings of the Phase 1 funded Loneliness and Social Isolation study was that the culturally specific aspects of Māori and Pacific loneliness are not being captured on standard, international measurement scales.

So the research team, led by Charles Waldegrave and Catherine Love, co-created with older Māori (50 years and over) their own loneliness scales. These new scales offered a different picture of how lonely older Pacific (co-led with Taimalieutu Kiwi Tamasese) and Māori are from western scales currently in use. This is due, in part, to differing worldviews, cultural understandings, the changing roles of older people in society, their extended family responsibilities, spirituality, and the impact of contemporary living on their cultures.

After the success of the Phase 1 study, Ageing Well funded the follow up study in Phase 2 to develop a Kaumātua Future Proofing Tool to provide an evidence-based checklist for those designing culturally rich services for the burgeoning ageing Māori population. Led by co-Principal Investigators Charles Waldegrave and Dr Catherine Love out of the Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit in Lower Hutt, this study hopes to contribute to the way in which policy and resources are allocated to Māori in the future.

“Our earlier research with older Māori on loneliness, showed that when we asked Māori Elders what made them feel lonely, we discovered there were other Māori specific aspects that the standard questionnaires did not pick up,” said Waldegrave.

“We think it is likely that many general questionnaires probably also miss Māori specific aspects and thus do not provide good evidence for service planning and policy setting. As a result, these blunt instruments may be providing imprecise and unhelpful information and imprecise evidence.”

So, the research team is investigating ways to develop a general questionnaire that takes into account the differing worldview, plus many of the cultural, spiritual, and social influences to help guide decision making that will impact Māori. It will be designed to present both Māori and mainstream providers and policy makers with Kaumātua-approved information on processes and pathways that work effectively for older Māori and those that do not.

“This study, using co-created questions with older Māori, seeks to understand what they consider works well for them and what does not. It will broaden the scope and increase the impact of services and policies with older Māori as they share their experience and mātauranga about what processes and pathways will be most effective for them,” said Waldegrave.

It will broaden the scope and increase the impact of services and policies with older Māori as they share their experience and mātauranga about what processes and pathways will be most effective for them.

About the research

For this study, the research team has sought out Māori who reside in differing geographic regions and have varied experiences. From urban to rural, large groups to small, North Island and South Island. One common thread between all of the groups has been their willingness to get involved and share their experiences.

The groups consistently expressed a mismatch between their ways of being and the systems of government they need to negotiate with. They referred to dissatisfaction, discrimination, and even abuse with services from key Ministries. For example, many shared stories about medical services where they could not understand key messages and had little control over decisions about treatment; and many also shared their experience of being prevented from, or punished, for speaking te reo at school and the deep distrust that created. These insights are important for researchers to understand as they try to develop a better way for Māori to be represented in the system.

The most significant highlight so far is the trust that has been built between the researchers and the Kaumātua. The research team is buoyed that the study participants are feeling free enough to speak openly about what is working for them and what is not working. The participants have committed to this study and are advocating for control of their lives and the services they seek.

As this project involves co-creation with kaumātua, it has been significantly impacted by COVID-19. The research team has been substantially constrained from working directly together with kaumātua until the stakeholder kaumātua organisations consider it safe to do so. It has been a learning experience for all, as they had to mitigate the potential impacts with face-to-face hui and recognise the challenges and barriers of modern technology for some kaumatua. Nevertheless, the research team is persevering.

Wrap up

Co-Principal Investigator, Dr Catherine Love, said of the study that “The purpose of this research is to provide a practical checklist for people, organisations, and Ministries designing services for a growing ageing Māori population.

“We have called it a ‘Kaumātua Future Proofing Tool’ because it will provide an evidence-based checklist of what older Māori say are the most useful ways to develop services and policies that relate to the Māori world they live in,” said Dr Love.