Research themes

Our research falls under the broad themes below.

Ageing, disability and rehabilitation

Our health, public health and health care services research focuses on (i) older people, and (ii) disabled people. Research is aligned to Sustainable Development Goals for good health and well-being (SDG3) and reduced inequalities (SDG10). Te Tiriti o Waitangi is fundamental to our research with Māori older adults, and disabled Māori.

We take a strengths-based collaborative approach to research, encouraging coordination and collaboration between sectors (university, private, public, civic society) and enabling participants to be involved and listened to in the development of research and the implementation of outputs (policies, programmes and services) that impact on their lives.

We are committed to conducting translational and applied research that is used to reduce health inequities and improve the quality of life for older people and disabled people by:

  • Promoting good health, preventing ill health, and maintaining independence.
  • Improving intergenerational relationships and practices.
  • Contributing to inclusive and accessible communities.
  • Supporting and assisting policy-makers in primary, community, secondary, and residential care in the development and implementation of evidence-based services and policies.
  • Providing evidence-based education, training and resources for health professionals and others working with older people and disabled people.


Theme lead contacts

Professor Vanessa Burholt

Associate Professor John Parsons


Applied research in health

Central to this theme is the desire to improve the outcomes for people using these health care services. Applied research seeks solutions to specific questions in real world settings using approaches that value both internal and external validity, with the goal of delivering answers for immediate use in clinical practice. Our research spans the continuum of care in:

  • Acute and emergency nursing
  • People living with long term conditions
  • Quality, safety and experience of care
  • Disability and rehabilitation

Theme lead contacts 

Professor Andrew Jull

Associate Professor Rachael Walker

Professor John Parsons

Kia Mau Te Ora: Promoting wellbeing

Our interdisciplinary team of researchers are dedicated to undertaking high quality and meaningful research that supports and improves health and equity across the lifespan.

Our research focuses on public health promotion and primary health care including management of non-communicable diseases. We have an explicit focus on equity, Te Tiriti and addressing the wider systemic issues associated with wellbeing. We undertake interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research using qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods to understand how to support people to live healthy lives, and to understand the systems and ecological factors that can impact health behaviours and outcomes.

We have utilised Te Pae Mahutonga model by Mason Durie to highlight various themes that are woven throughout this theme (noting these themes may overlap):

Toiora: Healthy Lives

  • Child, youth and whānau wellbeing
  • Living with long term conditions and non-communicable diseases
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Living with mental distress and/or addiction

Waiora: Healthy Environments

  • Geographies of health
  • Healthy workplace environments

Mauriora: Cultural Identity

  • Matauranga Māori and wellbeing
  • Cultural safety, Identity and connectedness

Te Oranga: Participation in Society

  • Social determinants of wellbeing
  • Te Tiriti and equity

Ngā Manukura: Community Leadership

  • Workforce development
  • Community and nursing leadership
  • Teaching, learning and innovation

Mana Whakahaere: Autonomy

  • Community and public health
  • Hapu, Iwi, hapori wellbeing and self-determination

You can find more information about our work via the link below.

Te Ārai Palliative Care and End of Life Research Group

Our goal is to benefit people nearing the end of life and those who care for them. We have four key foci:

  1. Those who would benefit from palliative care, including structurally disadvantaged populations who are less likely to receive palliative care, for example, Māori, older people, women, LGBTQIA+ people, and people dying of conditions other than cancer;
  2. The spaces where palliative care is delivered, including the home and institutional settings especially those where particular challenges with end of life care have been reported, such as acute hospitals and aged residential care;
  3. The palliative care workforce, including family/whānau carers and paid providers of health and social care services​​; and
  4. The rituals, customs and practices that support individuals, whānau and communities both during dying and post-death. 

We seek out and aim to support Māori aspiratio​ns, and our research, education and knowledge translation activities are underpinned by the Te Ārai ethical framework, informed by the Te Ārai Kāhui Kaumātua (group of Māori elders). You can find more information about our work via the link below.