Dementia app for Māori launches

An app to help Māori affected by mate wareware (dementia) and to raise awareness of the disease has been launched.

Dr Makarena Dudley

The app, Mate Wareware, was developed by researchers from the University of Auckland and AUT University following the largest-ever study of Māori affected by dementia.

“Kaumatuatanga Ō Te Roro – The Ageing Brain”, a Health Research Council-funded project, found the disease is poorly understood within Māori communities and whānau have difficulty accessing information that might help.

In that 2019 study, researchers from the University of Auckland held seven hui with 250 kaumātua around the country and interviewed eight whānau living with dementia.

The aim was to find out what they knew about dementia and what particular experiences and challenges they faced.

Dr Makarena Dudley from the University of Auckland and Brain Research New Zealand says she is delighted that the app is now in the hands of those who need it.

“The Mate Wareware app has been developed to be Māori-friendly and has been co-created through collaboration with end-users such as Kaumātua and whānau who helped identify topics, and user-tested it,” she says.

“Tikanga Māori is central to the app, with an introduction and karakia by kaumātua, and everyone featured in it is Māori - from the social worker to the whānau affected by mate wareware.”

Topics covered in the app include what mate wareware is and what Māori understandings of it is, the types and causes of it, how to look after whānau who are affected by it and how to identify if someone might be suffering from it.

Research has shown that numbers of kaumātua living beyond 65 years and 80 years of age has almost doubled in the last decade. In 2011, there were 1,928 Māori estimated to have dementia, and this number is projected to reach around 4,500 by 2026.

It is predicted that Māori will make up 8% of New Zealanders living with dementia by 2038, according to Alzheimers NZ. There is evidence that Māori are significantly younger when a diagnosis of dementia is made (8 years younger than Pākehā and 3 years younger than Pasifika).

That means a significant burden on whānau in terms of caring responsibilities, Dr Dudley says.

Prof Peter Thorne from the University of Auckland, Co-Director at Brain Research New Zealand, says that the Mate Wareware app is a wonderful development in the national action on dementia.

“Importantly, having been developed by Māori for Māori, it will be an accessible resource to specifically help Māori communities understand mate wareware and its impact. Brain Research New Zealand is extremely proud to support Dr Dudley and her team in the research and development of this app.”

The development of the app was funded by Brain Research New Zealand and the MedTech Centre of Research Excellences, and co-lead by Dr Makarena Dudley and Marcus King.

Media contact

Anne Beston | Media adviser
DDI 09 923 3258
Mob 021 970 089