The Health Research Council (HRC) awarded Dr Tess Moeke-Maxwell and the Te Ārai Research Group the Te Tohu Rapuora Medal at the Royal Society Te Apārangi Research Honours event on Wednesday in Hamilton. The medal recognises the contribution to Māori health leadership of a single researcher, research team, or community group.

In a news release HRC Chief Executive Professor Sunny Collings acknowledged Tess’s work saying that “Dr Moeke-Maxwell has led or supported numerous studies and community collaborations with her Te Ārai colleagues and kaumātua that have put whānau aspirations and tikanga front and centre.” Professor Collings also noted the impact of Tess’s research, indicating that it “has informed Aotearoa’s palliative care policy, increased Māori access to palliative care, and supported whānau access to knowledge about tikanga processes across the end-of-life pathway, from the time of diagnosis through to the hura kōhatu (unveiling), disposal of ashes, and bereavement.”

Tess credited the inspiration of Professor Merryn Gott and the vision of Matua Rawiri Wharemate and Te Ārai’s Kahui Kaumātua to improve Māori end-of-life outcomes. “The end of life is a tapu (sacred) time when the wairua (spirit) is very active, so it’s imperative that great care is taken in this space. We’ve been privileged to hear some of these wairua-filled, end-of-life rituals, which belong to iwi and hapū,” says Dr Moeke-Maxwell.

The Te Ārai Kāhui Kaumātua group includes the late Matua Rawiri Wharemate, Whio Wharemate Hansen, Dr Ash Puriri, Joe Naden, Donna Kerridge, Andrew Peters, Kiripai Kaka, Aaron Ngawaka, Devi-ann Hall, Tina Parata, Lexy Ngawaka, Hana Munro, Arena Munro, and Walter Thompson.

The Te Ārai Palliative Care and End of Life Research Group includes Director Professor Merryn Gott, Dr Tess Moeke-Maxwell, Dr Jackie Robinson, Kat Mason, Dr Lisa Williams, Associate Professor Janine Wiles, Dr Natalie Anderson, Dr Gemma Auburn, Dr Deborah Balmer, Ms Stella Black, Nette Scurr, Dr Deborah Raphael Associate Professor Michal Boyd, Helen Butler, Dr Melissa Carey, Dr Rosemary Frey, Dr Tessa Morgan, Dr Julia Slark and Susan Waterworth.

To learn more about the award and read the University of Auckland story here.

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