Health experts from around the world heard from Kiwis presenting their research in the first day of an international conference yesterday.

More than 1200 people have come to the city for the World Conference on Health Promotion, the biggest international conference Rotorua has ever secured.

The estimated economic impact to New Zealand will be $2.4 million, with more than 80 per cent of that spent in Rotorua, according to Destination Rotorua.

Yesterday was the first day of presentations, workshops and panel discussions, after a pōhiri and welcoming speeches on Sunday.

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The "Health promotion at the end of life" session had one of the biggest contingents of New Zealand speakers.

University of Auckland's Professor Merryn Gott, the director of Te Arai Palliative Care Research Group, explained palliative care needs in New Zealand were expected to double in the next 20 years.

University of Auckland's Professor Merryn Gott, the director of Te Arai Palliative Care Research Group, presenting at World Health Promotion Forum. Photo / Stephen Parker
University of Auckland's Professor Merryn Gott, the director of Te Arai Palliative Care Research Group, presenting at World Health Promotion Forum. Photo / Stephen Parker

She said one-third of all dying New Zealanders accessed some palliative care. Some of those least likely to were people with conditions other than cancer, those over 80, Māori, Pacific and Asian people and homeless,

University of Auckland's Professor Merryn Gott, the director of Te Arai Palliative Care Research Group, presenting at World Health Promotion Forum. Photo / Stephen Parker
University of Auckland's Professor Merryn Gott, the director of Te Arai Palliative Care Research Group, presenting at World Health Promotion Forum. Photo / Stephen Parker

"We can see in New Zealand that there are inequities in access to hospice and palliative care ... That's something we really need to think about ... We have a real vested interest in making sure that aged carers are very well-equipped."

Her research showed the biggest concern for New Zealanders was being a burden on their family at the end of their lives.

Gott said there needed to be more support for family members taking on caregiving roles for dying loved ones.

Rangimahora Reddy, the chief executive of the Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust in Hamilton, and Dr Mary Simpson from the University of Waikato, then presented their research.

Dr Mary Simpson from the University of Waikato (left) and Rangimahora Reddy, the chief executive of the Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust. Photo / Samantha Olley
Dr Mary Simpson from the University of Waikato (left) and Rangimahora Reddy, the chief executive of the Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust. Photo / Samantha Olley

They paired 29 tuākana elders each with five or six teina (a few decades younger) each, who then spent three sessions giving advice and guidance about being an elderly Māori.

Overall, the tuākana reported feeling less lonely, and a stronger sense of purpose after the sessions, while the teina reported a better understanding of their tikanga and of transitions in later life.

Reddy said the project responded to the numerous challenges, including health challenges, Māori faced.

"What we don't have is an older persons' workforce to support those challenges, and what we don't have is the budget or resources to support the workforce to do anything about it. So this intervention aimed to try to support kaumātua."