Research / Culturally centred health interventions for Māori and Pacific peoples


Supporting healthy lifestyles: a Maori and Pasifika mHealth approach

illustration of community-centred health
Project Status: Completed Funding: $2,086,303 Timeframe: April 2016 – June 2019


What we investigated

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Take | Issue

Māori and Pasifika communities in Aotearoa New Zealand are disproportionately affected by high levels of non-communicable diseases (such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes) and interventions often do not consider the communities’ needs and wants.

Whāinga | Aim

This project aimed to develop and test a culturally-tailored, mobile-phone delivered (mHealth) healthy lifestyle support programme in partnership with Māori and Pasifika communities to help reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Huarahi I Whāia | Approach

The research project took an innovative co-design approach, working in partnership with Māori and Pasifika health providers and communities, to create an mHealth programme (smartphone app and website) known as OL@-OR@, with distinct culturally-tailored versions for Māori and Pasifika.

The programme was then evaluated in a large randomised controlled trial involving 69 Māori and Pasifika communities across New Zealand.


Outcomes and Impact

Putanga | Outcome

This study was the first to co-design and evaluate an mHealth programme in partnership with Indigenous populations.

Community feedback on the co-design approach was uniformly positive, which was reflected in excellent recruitment of study participants and high follow-up rates. The programme’s culturally-tailored design was highly valued by Māori and Pasifika study participants. The quality of this research was also recognised at the 2019 Designers Institute of New Zealand Best Design Awards where research team won two bronze awards – in the Public Good and User Experience categories.

Results from the trial showed that, while the programme did not result in a significant change in lifestyle behaviour overall, participants who engaged with the OL@-OR@ app and set behaviour change goals showed significant improvements compared with the control group.  The findings suggest that while apps are not for everyone, they may support behaviour change in those motivated to engage with them.

Te Ara Kei Mua | Next Steps

Organisations may be interested in adapting OL@-OR@ for use within their own community.

Those interested are welcome to contact the OL@-OR@ Kaitiaki Group by sending an email to .

Nga Hua O Te Rangahau | Research Products

The OL@-OR@ healthy lifestyle programme is available through an app and a website.  The OL@-OR@ app is free to download for Apple and Android devices.


View the website for this project

Download the OL@-OR@ app


Knowledge Exchange

Ētahi Atu Puka | Other Publications

Kōnae Whakaata | Video

OL@-OR@: A Māori and Pasifika mHealth approach

Research Findings Brief

This research project aimed to reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases by developing and testing a culturally tailored, mobile-phone delivered (mHealth) healthy lifestyle support programme for Māori and Pasifika in New Zealand.

Project Team

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