Meet the Te Ārai group members:

Professor Merryn Gott – I am Director of the Te Ārai Group and passionate about improving palliative and end of life care, particularly for people already facing potential disadvantage and discrimination. My hobbies include yoga and playing the piano (preferably Chopin).

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Natalie Anderson – I am a Senior Lecturer and Emergency Nurse with a background in psychology. I’m interested in death, dying and bereavement in acute-care contexts. My PhD explored paramedics’ decisions to start or stop resuscitation efforts and my MSc research explored nurses’ first experiences with patient death. When I’m not nursing, researching or teaching I enjoy nature photography and travel.

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Dr Deborah Balmer – I joined the School of Nursing in 2015 to work on the End of Life with Dementia (ELDER) research project. Some of the other research I have continued on with include spirituality in residential aged care, health literacy and nursing education, poly-pharmacy and multi-morbidity, and currently, investigating New Zealanders’ experiences of visiting hospitals or similar during COVID restrictions (Levels, 4 & 3 especially) as well as the community delivery of hospice care during the same COVID periods. I use a range of qualitative research methodologies, but particularly enjoy using video reflexive ethnography and longitudinal qualitative research where suitable. When I’m not at work, I am often found tending my avocado orchard.

Ms Stella Black –  Ko Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Whakaue, Whakatōhea, Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Tūwharetoa ōku iwi (tribal affiliations). I have been a Maori Health Researcher in the School of Nursing since 2011. I am passionate about working with Maori young and old across a range of research topics, including palliative and end of life.

Associate Professor Michal Boyd – I have pursued creative models of care for older people as a provider, leader and researcher since the early 1990s.  Improving care for older people and those that love them is the life force behind my work. In my nurse practictioner practice in aged care I am constantly amazed at the resilience of people as they age, and this work grounds my teaching and research. I have been with the Te Arai research group since 2012. Amusements include exploring new places, music, documentaries and being outside.

Ms Helen Butler – I joined the School of Nursing teaching team in early 2018, and earlier this year was promoted to Associate Head Mental Health and Addiction.  In my role I am able to mix my 2 passions – mental health and palliative care.  I am excited to be here and be part of the Te Arai group.  In New Zealand people diagnosed with mental illness have high rates of physical illness and die at an earlier age than the general population.  My masters study found people diagnosed with mental illness are 3.5 times less likely to access specialist palliative care services compared to the general population in one NZ DHB.  It raised more questions about the palliative and end‐of‐life care needs for people diagnosed with mental illness who are diagnosed with life limiting physical illness so I am embarking on my PhD to find out more!

Dr Melissa Carey – I am a postdoctoral Māori Health Research Fellow, and Registered Nurse, working with the Māori community to support the attainment of their goals for health and wellbeing across the lifespan. I am Kaupapa Māori researcher with an interest in the protective benefits of a strong positive cultural identity, with a focus on Mana Wāhine and the power and strength of Māori women.  

Dr Ofa Dewes – I am a Pacific health researcher and committed to improving health outcomes for Pacific peoples across the lifespan. Before joining the University of Auckland in 2005, I worked in the public, private and international sectors. I am Fiji-born of Rotuman/Tongan/Tuvaluan ethnicity, with affiliation to Ngati Porou. I love rugby and my medicine is laughter. :- )

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Dr Rosemary Frey – I’m a social psychologist whose research is related to culture as well as social justice issues in health research.  I have a particular interest in improving palliative care for older adults. My likes include Jamaica, puppies, kittens and jerk chicken. Dislikes include thunder, paper cuts, and war.

Ms. Hetty Goodwin – I joined the School of Nursing as a research assistant in 2019 after spending much of my career as a registered nurse in both community and Hospice settings.  I have always had a strong interest in palliative and end of life care and am passionate about improving care to ensure that all patients receive an equitably high standard of care.

Whaea Whio Wharemate Hansen

Heather McLeod – I am an honorary research fellow with Te Arai. An actuary by training, I’ve been a consultant in healthcare financing since 1993. A country girl at heart, I consult from the small rural village of Hanmer Springs on the edge of the Southern Alps, South Island, New Zealand.

Dr Tess Moeke-Maxwell  (Ngāi Tai & Ngāti Pōrou) – I joined the School of Nursing in 2013  as a Research Fellow. My research interests include indigenous palliative care (Māori) and Kaupapa Māori and Māori centred research methodologies.

Dr Tessa Morgan – I started at the School of Nursing as a summer student in 2014. I managed an MBIE-funded study looking at older people’s experiences of social isolation and loneliness. I finished my PhD at the University of Cambridge in which I focused on palliative care and gender. I hold a BA(hons) in history where I was particularly interested in early modern Europe. In my spare time I love reading and doing yoga.

Dr Jackie RobinsonI am a Nurse Practitioner and Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing.  I have been working clinically in palliative care for over 20 years and in 2018 completed my PhD exploring the benefits and burdens of hospital admissions in palliative care. My research interests are focused around the provision of palliative care from a social justice and equity perspective including care of people who are structurally disadvantaged or living in deprivation.  I am also interested in exploring inequities related to the way in which people access and utilise care at the end of life from non-specialist providers such as primary care, district nursing and other health and social care services.

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Dr Julia Slark – I am Head of School for the School of Nursing. I established the first postgraduate stroke nursing paper in New Zealand and have research interests in stroke and teaching and learning. I work as a nurse consultant one day a week on the hyper acute stroke unit at Auckland DHB and enjoy sailing and walking my dog on the weekend!

Mrs Susan Waterworth – I’m a Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing. My research interests centre on long-term conditions in older people including palliative and end of life care.My teaching focuses on supporting experienced nurses to develop their leadership in order to develop and implement innovative approaches to improving quality in health care. As a research supervisor, it is a pleasure to work with students who want to conduct research that is based on exploring practical issues that can have a direct impact on making a difference and improving patient/client care. Importantly, it is also about conducting research to ensure that nurses themselves get the support they need to provide the best care they can.

We acknowledge here the passing of Matua Rawiri Wharemate (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, Tainui, Ngāti Pūkenga) in June 2021. He had been our Senior Kaumātua from the group’s inception, a wise counsellor and beloved friend. He was also a named investigator on the Pae Herenga project.

A/P Janine Wiles – I am a human geographer with research interested in social gerontology, ageing in place and care. I teach qualitative research methods through a number of courses in the School of Population Health and am Australasian Regional Editor for the journal Health and Social Care in the Community.

Dr Lisa Williams – I’m interested in the arts-based research and arts-based knowledge translation, which means I like producing creative works based on our research and disseminating them to audiences outside of academia.

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