Ageing is part of life, and kaumātua see it as a positive development as it means that you are held in high esteem by the community. Rather than kaumātua ‘retiring’, they enter into another phase of life that can have significant cultural, hapū and iwi expectations and commitments.
Through leadership and by sharing knowledge with the next generations, kaumātua often possess a unique cultural authority. They have lived through the ups and downs of life and possess significant knowledge and experience. So what better way to help kaumātua age well than by including them in the research that will help kaumātua and their kin across the motu?
The Phase 1 research project, Kaumātua Mana Motuhake, was a novel study that created and evaluated a peer-mentorship program to meet the health and social service needs of kaumātua. This was aimed at empowering kaumātua to live independently, with dignity, and based on their own worldview. With the overwhelming success of this initial project, Ageing Well committed $2.5M in funding to the research team to expand the scope and reach of the project in the next phase.
The phase 2 research programme, Kaumātua Mana Motuhake Pōi (colloquially known as KMM Pōī), is studying further the tuakana-teina (older sibling-younger sibling) peer intervention model, in addition to an intergenerational model for increasing physical activity and cultural knowledge exchange.
Coming at the research from a truly collaborative standpoint, researchers listened to what is important to kaumātua. Building upon kaumātua strengths of enhancing hauora (a holistic approach to health) and mana motuhake (autonomy, identity, and self-determination), this research programme establishes a collaborative research network including academic and community researchers, kaumatua service providers, and other stakeholders to achieve the two main objectives:
1) to increase service access and utilization in order to support kaumātua with the greatest health and social needs through a tuakana-teina peer educator model;
and 2) to increase physical activity and mātauranga (cultural knowledge) exchange (including te reo Māori) through intergenerational models of learning.
What makes this research innovative is that it utilises a Kaupapa Māori model that supports and promotes the independence and autonomy of kaumātua who desire lives of longevity, quality, and equity in positive ageing. The programme is co-designed, co-implemented, and co-evaluated by the research team and the community researchers, and grounded in cultural revitalisation to enhance hauora and mana motuhake. In essence, it is helping kaumātua providers develop culturally appropriate and sustainable projects that support kaumatua to age well.