Healthy Families Rotorua will be embedding mātauranga Māori into a nationwide sleep study thanks to the determined efforts of lead systems innovator, Ranui Maxwell.
When Ranui recalibrated Te Arawa sleep strategy, He Āhuru Mōwai, last year, her research led her to Massey University’s Sleep/Wake Research Centre. While her interest was initially piqued by the “flash website”, the content aligned beautifully with her mahi.
“It ticked off a number of things we were doing, such as research, sleep, and the importance of sleep. However, I noticed they didn’t have a mātauranga Māori component,” says Ranui.
“I reached out to them and explained what Healthy Families Rotorua was doing and asked if they’d be interested in collaborating – we’d share our insights, and they’d share their research.”
Ranui connected with professors Leigh Signal and Dee Muller and they discussed the extensive research the centre had undertaken, their hopes for their research, and how Healthy Families Rotorua might energize this space.
“They have about 20 years of research around sleep and provided some really cool summary papers of their research, and we continue to share ideas,” says Ranui.
The relationship was further strengthened when Ranui was approached to be a project advisor for the centre’s upcoming ‘Improving Perinatal Mental Health by Supporting & Improving Maternal Sleep’ project.
“My focus will be on mothers and babies. There’s a huge disparity – much like all of our health statistics with Māori and non-Māori. Māori are getting less sleep than non-Māori, which is affecting their mental health outcomes.
“Being appointed to this project allows the exchange of robust clinical knowledge with mātauranga Māori, which is especially beneficial for our Māori mothers. If our māmā are at the top of the list of those not getting enough sleep, they obviously need guidance around it.”
Ranui says she is excited about her new appointment. However, she admits to laughing when she scrolled through all the names with ‘Professor’ in front – and then seeing her name in the mix.
“It’s a little bit intimidating but it’s also such a privilege to be asked. Anything that empowers this kaupapa is positive. It sets us up well for our Te Arawa sleep strategy because we’ll have different knowledge streams to ensure success at the end of it.
“I feel like it’s a huge win for Healthy Families Rotorua,” says Ranui.