TAHA supports ‘active’ research, which is research that can be translated into practice to improve health outcomes for Pacific mothers, babies and families.  

Our TAHA team consists of ethnic specific (Tonga, Samoa, Cook Island, Niue) facilitators and researchers, who have experience in both qualitative and quantitative research and research methodologies including evaluation.

Our current involvement in research are as follows:  


A Better Start: E Tipu e Rea

A Better Start: E Tipu e Rea is the National Science Challenge working to reduce obesity and improve learning skills and mental health in New Zealand children.  Around 50% of parents of overweight children (and up to 90% for very young children) misclassify their child as normal weight or sometimes even underweight. However, little research has examined why this misclassification is so high, nor what it means for people from different ethnic groups. The overall aim of this research is to increase understanding of how parents and whanau view growth in infants (0- 12 months), toddlers (12-24 months), and preschoolers (3-4 years).

TAHA will lead focus groups with Maori, Pacific, Asian, and European parents/whanau to assess i) what is healthy growth for each age group, ii) what influences this (mis)perception, iii) whether other factors in life are more important, iv) whether knowing such information affects eating and activity in children, v) whether parents want to be informed that their infant or young child is overweight, and vi) how this should be discussed with parents. Focus groups will also be held with Well Child providers to asses how they discuss growth and relative weight status with parents of young children. More than one third of young NZ children are overweight or obese and recognition that an issue exists is considered the first step towards effective behaviour change. This project will tell us how to better engage parents of young children in effective obesity prevention (and treatment) initiatives designed to improve child and family health.


Growing up in New Zealand - Pacific report

The Growing Up in New Zealand is New Zealand's contemporary longitudinal study tracking the development of approximately 7,000 New Zealand children from before birth until they are young adults. The study is designed to provide unique information about what shapes children’s early development and how interventions might be targeted at the earliest opportunity to give every New Zealand child the best start in life.  Of the total group recruited to the study, 1151 women and 548 men were categorised as Pacific representing 18.6% of mothers and 13.2% of fathers in the total cohort.  Both the Pacific and Asian populations were over sampled in an effort to better reflect their families.  

TAHA analyses the Pacific data from this longitudinal study.  The first soon to be released Growing Up in New Zealand Pacific antenatal report will provide a broad and diverse description of pregnancy health and wellbeing in Pacific women.  Understanding the health and wellbeing of the children within the Growing Up in New Zealand study begins with comprehensive insights into their beginnings.


Maternal health promotion in Samoa: Views of pregnant mothers and stakeholders

Led by TAHA and the University of Auckland Global Public Health, this research sought to answer the question: how can we provide information to pregnant women in Samoa in a way that makes a positive difference to their knowledge and practices?  Through this research, we aimed to identify positive and effective mechanisms of advice and support that would improve the experiences of pregnancy for mothers, and improve health outcomes for mothers and babies.  

The research had a dual approach of gaining an understanding of the needs, preferences and ideas of pregnant women in relation to understanding and maintaining health and wellbeing during pregnancy; and the needs, preferences and ideas of stakeholders who were involved in the delivery of maternal health promotion.  From this basis we are able to report on general health promotion approaches and their effectiveness, the suitability of current approaches to meet the health and wellbeing needs of pregnant mothers and potential ideas for improvements in the future. Five focus group discussions took place with pregnant mothers and eleven stakeholder interviews were undertaken across Samoa including Savai’i.  


Adolescent Health Research Group - Youth'12 Pacific young people report

The Youth2000 Survey Series is an innovative and comprehensive health and wellbeing survey that reflects the relevant issues of young New Zealanders.  The Youth2000 survey series ask a large, representative sample of secondary school students from over approximately a third of all high school in New Zealand a wide range of questions that contribute to health and wellbeing of young people in New Zealand. These include questions about ethnicity & culture, physical health, food & activities, substance use, sexual health, injuries and violence, home and family health, school achievement and participation, neighbourhood environment, spirituality and access to healthcare.

The 2016 Pacific report presents the findings and trends for Pacific Youth over the three waves of the survey in 2001, 2007 and 2012. The Youth’12 Pacific young people report was funded by the Ministry of Youth Development.  TAHA staff reviewed the data and report prior to print and was also involved in the Pacific Advisory Group for this report.


CMDHB Infant Nutrition Project

The overall objective of the CMDHB Improving Infant Nutrition Project is to reduce overweight/obesity in infants  and toddlers through the development and implementation of a family-focused approach that will lead to  environment and behaviour change to improve infant and toddler nutrition (0–2 year olds) with a focus on  Pacific, Māori and Asian families. Funded by the Ministry of Health via CMDHB, the Needs Assessment  phase was awarded to an alliance between Conectus – Whakawhetu and TAHA – and the Centre of Asian  Health Research and Evaluation. TAHA worked together with Integrity Professionals to undertake the Pacific Needs Assessment for the Community Action Project.


Rugby Fans in Training (RuFIT) feasibility study 

Rugby Fans in Training (RuFIT) feasibility study is a two-arm, multicentre, randomised control study that aims to promote healthy lifestyle behaviours in male rugby fans, delivered in partnership with the Super 15 Franchises throughout New Zealand. The programme is designed for overweight men aged 18-65 years where participants will receive twice weekly training/physical activity sessions with a trainer from a Super 15 rugby franchise.  In addition, the men will receive healthy lifestyle advice from the rugby club’s trainer, as well as service providers such as Pacific Heartbeat.

Together with the National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI) based at the University of Auckland, TAHA facilitated the research and focus group sessions for Māori and Pacific women about the feasibility of The Rugby Fans in Training programme and how wives and partners of study participants could be included in the programme.  

For more information about the RuFIT study, contact:

Associate Professor Ralph Maddison, Programme Leader, Physical Activity

The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142.

Phone:             09 3737 999 x84767