Research scholarship to shed light on racism in NZ health system

08 Sep, 2016
Research scholarship to shed light on racism in NZ health system
Left to right: Dr Amohia Boulton (Research Centre Director - Whakauae Research Services), Emma Rawson, Neville Lomax (Chair of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Hauiti) and Rātā Cornell (Rūnanga Delegate, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Hauiti), soon after presentation of the scholarship at Rātā Marae.

AUT Masters student Emma Rawson has been awarded the inaugural Whakauae Pae Tawhiti Scholarship for Māori Health Research, to further her work investigating institutional racism in public health units’ human resources practices.

The scholarship was awarded by Whakauae Research Services Ltd, the only iwi-owned and mandated health research centre in Aotearoa. Under the auspices of Ngāti Hauiti, an iwi located in central Rangitīkei, the organisation is focused on enhancing outcomes for Māori through high quality research of relevance to and driven by Māori aspirations – and on building the numbers of Māori health researchers needed to do so.

Rawson’s research will examine the experiences and observations of senior Māori staff within the public health workforce, to identify sites where institutional racism is a barrier to equitable outcomes in health.

Existing research indicates that racism negatively impacts on health outcomes – whether personally mediated or institutional racism, which can diminish the efficacy of healthcare services provided for and by Māori. Rawson’s research will build on this foundation by providing important insights into the experiences of the Māori public health workforce, and identifying particular areas of concern.

Rawson, a consultant in public health and former District Health Board Māori health promoter, views research as a powerful tool for addressing inequality and inaction – and sees its potential to ensure more responsive human resources practices in public health units.

“As a result of this research I hope to work with Māori and non-Māori leaders, academics, activists and policy makers – here and internationally,” she says. “Ultimately I want to help transform systems and organisations, so they’re responsive to the needs of Māori, provide effective care and achieve the outcomes they are charged with providing.”