AUT’s Pacific Islands Families (PIF) Study has been awarded three research grants, each worth $1.2 million over three years, by the Health Research Council of New Zealand.
The funding will enable vital research on mental health, respiratory health and hearing loss among Pacific peoples in New Zealand. This diverse group is over-represented in adverse health and social statistics, contributing to higher rates of communicable and non-communicable disease.
“This decision reflects the need for robust research to inform public policy and practice, in order to achieve more equitable health outcomes for Pacific peoples,” says Dr El-Shadan Tautolo, Director of the PIF Study.
Established in 2000, the PIF study has tracked 1398 Pacific children from birth to the present day – monitoring their health and development at key stages, as well as socio-cultural influences and the family environment.
All the children involved in the study were born at Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital during the same year.
Having yielded 120 scientific research papers to date, the PIF Study has been instrumental in the advancement of culturally specific information about the Pacific population in New Zealand. Prior to its inception, there was little evidence to support coordinated public health interventions for Pacific peoples.
The study is part of the Centre for Pacific Health & Development Research, housed at South Campus – an emerging hub for Māori and Pacific research in South Auckland.
The three funded projects are:
Associate Professor Peter Larmer, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Health & Environmental Sciences, says these are important and neglected areas of research in a high needs population.
“The findings have the potential to make a significant difference to the health of Pacific peoples, and we look forward to the beneficial impact in years to come,” he says.
There are more than 40 Pacific ethnic groups in New Zealand.
Almost 300,000 people, or 7.4 percent of the population, identify with one or more Pacific ethnic groups – predominantly Samoan (48.7 percent), Cook Islands Māori (20.9 percent), Tongan (20.4 percent) and Niuean (8.1 percent).
New Zealand’s diverse Pacific population also has the fastest growing youth segment, with 46 percent under the age of 20.