This year Ngāti Porou Hauora opens the doors of the Te Rangawairua o Paratene Ngata Research Centre, based at Te Puia Springs Hospital. The name honours the vision of the late Dr Paratene Ngata: for Ngāti Porou Hauora to lead our own research developments, becoming “a tikanga and research based centre of excellence for Hauora Māori”. The name has been gifted to us by Dr Paratene’s whanau and in English translates to ‘The Inspiration of Paratene Ngata’. The centre will provide a basis for building on the research initiatives and relationships which Dr Paratene inspired Ngāti Porou Hauora, our communities and university researchers to build over the last 15 years+.
It is our intention that the centre will be a catalyst for growing sustainable research partnerships that enhance our work with local communities and scientists from a range of disciplines to generate new knowledge and better health outcomes that empower our people to live well and live longer. Initially, the centre will enhance research that has been focusing on increasing knowledge about factors, including genetics and nutrition, which contribute to the prevalence of the debilitating metabolic conditions which compromise many people’s lives: type-2 diabetes, gout, obesity, heart & kidney disease, and the impact of sugar. Through NPH’s newest research partnership, with the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Bio-discovery, an expanded collaborative network of scientists, health researchers and providers will work with us to further advance understandings about metabolic conditions - with the aim of informing significant improvements in treatment and prevention.
Teepa Wawatai, chairman of Ngāti Porou Hauora Charitable Trust Board, said diabetes, gout, heart and kidney disease were four important health issues affecting Ngāti Porou, and these will be a focus for initial research. “We are excited about the new Research Centre and believe the work that happens there result in better ways to prevent and treat these conditions while also delivering jobs and educational outcomes. This mechanism allow us to deliver these outcomes in a way that does not divert resources from our critical frontline healthcare roles.” Importantly, integral to all activities of the research centre will be regular opportunities for our communities (including schools), health professionals and scientists to meet with each other to share knowledge and co-define priorities, and for Ngāti Porou and other māori students, practitioners and researchers to develop skills in research of relevance to māori and rural health.