Two Whanganui Maori health research institutes have been given $5.27 million from the Health Research Council, in a first for organisations outside a university.
Directors Dr Paul Reynolds and Dr Cherryl Smith of Te Atawhai o te Ao (Taota) Independent Maori Institute for Environment and Health based in Castlecliff have received $4.27 million over five years for their research programme that will focus on Maori intergenerational trauma and healing.
The programme is historic because it is the first to be awarded to a non-university based host, and the first to be awarded under a new Health Research Council (HRC) investment stream dedicated solely to Maori health research.
It is also only the second Maori-led programme to be awarded in the HRC's 20-year history.
Dr Amohia Boulton of Whakauae Research for Maori Health and Development in Whanganui has received $1 million over three years to study the practice of traditional Maori rongoa healing in contemporary health care settings.
Dr Reynolds and Dr Smith said the proposal for the HRC funding had taken two years, and a lot of research had gone into this huge programme of work.
They had also worked for two years to form the collaboration with the University of Waikato, Professor Karina Walters, director of the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute based at the University of Washington in Seattle, the Maia Institute in Auckland and Ngai Tahu.
Dr Reynolds said Taota had been working for two years in Maori communities who were vulnerable.
It had also been looking at the impact of toxins and chemicals on Maori Vietnam veterans, grandparents parenting mokopuna, men experiencing depression and the unwanted sex project.
He said they linked that research with intergenerational training from the work they did with indigenous researchers in America who had worked with their people affected by historical trauma and its negative health impacts.
Those researchers will be coming to New Zealand to work with Taota when the programme starts in October.
Dr Reynolds said they found during their research there were gaps where trauma impacted on whanau.
"It does not just affect that one person, it impacts the whole whanau, and following generations."
Pivotal to their role was working respectfully with whanau together in intervention and recovery.