Nearly $6 million in grants have been allocated to New Zealand universities researching the health of indigenous people.

The funding comes through the International Collaborative Indigenous Health Research Partnership (ICIHRP), a tri-nation initiative between The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC), the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia, and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

The University of Auckland's Department of Maori and Pacific Health was granted $1,475,884 over three years to look at how heart disease in indigenous people was managed, while the university's School of Population Health was awarded $1,977,857 over five years to explore how health professional education could improve outcomes for indigenous populations.

The University of Otago's Ngai Tahu Maori Health Research Unit was granted $2,352,328 over five years to look at health inequalities arising from chronic dental disease among indigenous children.

"It has been a tremendous journey working together for all three countries funding agencies to get to this point in the process," HRC chief executive Robin Olds said.

"The calibre of applications was impressive and we are pleased to support such high quality indigenous-led research projects aimed at improving the health of indigenous peoples across New Zealand, Australia and Canada."