Research focuses on wellness, not illness

The importance of supportive relationships and their impact on Māori men will plug a crucial research gap into what keeps Māori men well.

Lead researchers Mohi Rua and Professor Darrin Hodgetts are heading a two-year project that focuses on supportive relationships and positive social interactions. The project has received $650,000 from Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga – the Auckland-based Centre of Research Excellence that invests in Māori community research.

Mr Rua, who is currently completing his PhD, said most research on Māori men is illness-focused, reflecting the abundance of negative statistics but providing few answers.

"What we don’t see is anything relating to Māori men that suggests they are healthy and well with positive relationships. There is very little about the importance of relationships to maintaining and fostering health and wellness, particularly in the face of adversity."

Researchers are working very closely with three diverse groups of Māori men; those engaged in traditional practices at home, men who have migrated to an urban centre and homeless men.

"We knew it wasn’t at easy as looking at individual models of personal responsibility; it’s a lot more complex than that," Mr Rua says.

"The different groups also reflect the huge diversity in our Māori world."

A number of world-class researchers drawn from different fields are involved in the research project.

"In our work, we have all seen some of the disparities between those who are able to fulfill their potential and those who aren’t, and generally those who aren’t are Māori," Mr Rua says.

"As a result of the research, we hope to develop different ways and strategies of involving Māori men by working with them. Good policy is developed when those who are affected the most have a say."

Supported by Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga

Māori and Psychology Research Unit