Research / Culturally centred health interventions for Māori and Pacific peoples

Life-course impact of chronic health conditions

Investigating the impact of chronic disease on families and whānau at different life stages

illustration of community-centred health
Project Status: Active Funding: $1,500,000 Timeframe: October 2020 – June 2023


What we are investigating

Take | Issue

There is a lot of research evidence about the impact of chronic conditions, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and mental health disorders, on individuals in middle and later life.  However, the indirect effects on the whānau of those with chronic conditions have been less well-studied, and these are likely to have impacts across the entire life-course.

Whāinga | Aim

This project aims to understand how living with a person who has a chronic condition affects their whānau – children, partners, carers, elders and household members. It will specifically investigate what helps some New Zealand communities to thrive despite high rates of chronic conditions.

This research is intended to inform health policy-makers about the wider benefits of chronic disease prevention and ways of improving the lives of whānau who live with people with chronic conditions.  It will also develop novel kaupapa Māori resources to enhance future life-course research

Huarahi I Whāia | Approach

Two research studies will be undertaken:

      • A large cohort of individuals and families will be followed over time, using big and linked data sets. The study will compare outcomes for those who live in families which contain a member suffering from a chronic disease or mental health disorder, and those who don’t. A wide range of outcomes will be assessed at different stages of the life-course.
      • An in-depth qualitative study of Tokelauan families will assess the family, household and community strengths that allow people in these communities to thrive despite the challenges of living in families with chronic conditions.

Two further pieces of work will build on previous research to make novel Māori theoretical frameworks for life-course and intergenerational research available for use by others:

      • The conceptual framework and methodology for Te Kura Mai i Tawhiti, a kaupapa Māori early life and whānau programme which aims to transform Māori outcomes throughout the different life stages, will be documented for use in future life-course research.
      • The methodology used by Ngati Tiipa to develop their whakapapa database, and the tikanga that will govern its access, use and protection, will be documented as a resource for other Māori collectives wishing to undertake intergenerational wellbeing research.


This project is co-funded by:

A Better Start, Healthier Lives, and Ageing Well National Science Challenges.


Knowledge Exchange

Puka Rangahau | Academic Publications

Ngā Rā Nunui | Events

Project Team

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