Spin on health wins Royal Society award

10 October 2017
Alumni AGM 2016 Poi Demonstration

Doctoral student Kate Riegle van West from the University of Auckland has won a prestigious award for a video that showcases her research into the health benefits of poi.

Kate won the Future Leader Award and $4,000 in the ‘150 Years of Discovery: Emerging Research' video competition, with her three-minute video Poi: A Spin on Health.

The video outlines her clinical trial, undertaken between the Centre for Brain Research and the Dance Studies Programme at the University, investigating the benefits of poi on the physical and cognitive function of healthy older adults. Her research found that one month of poi practice improved balance, grip strength, memory, and attention.

Hosted by the Royal Society of New Zealand Early Career Researcher Forum, the competition encourages early career researchers and postgraduate students to share their research, innovations, discoveries and insights.

Kate moved to New Zealand from the US two years ago to conduct her research. Poi: A Spin on Health has had thousands of views and Kate says she is delighted to see her research reach a wider audience.

“We’re living longer but we don’t necessarily have good quality of life in our later years, and simple and effective strategies for maintaining health in old age are urgently needed. I believe poi can be one such strategy, and by conducting the first study to systematically investigate its effects on health, I hope to shed new light on one of New Zealand’s own taonga and pave the way for future research on poi and health. Winning this competition is an incredible honour, and I am excited my research is being seen by the wider community.”  

Kate will be a guest at the Royal Society’s Gala Dinner tonight, marking the end of the 150th Anniversary calendar of events. Her winning video will be shown at the event, and she will be presented with a certificate for the Future Leader Award along with a copy of John E. Martin’s Illuminating Our World: 150 years of the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

For more information, visit www.spinpoi.com.

To view her winning entry, visit www.thinkable.org/submission_entries/YqDopX91

Media queries to:
Miranda Playfair
Media Relations Adviser
Faculty of Creative Arts & Industries
The University of Auckland
Phone: +64 21 063 8393
Email: m.playfair@auckland.ac.nz