Symposium: He ora te whakapiri – Unleashing the potential of New Zealand life course research

18 October 2018

Science Challenges collaborate to host symposium on life course research in NZ: He Ora Te Whakapiri


More than 200 people attended He Ora te Whakapiri, a symposium held at Te Papa in October to consider the future of life course research in New Zealand. Co-hosted by the three health and wellbeing National Science Challenges (A Better Start, Healthier Lives and Ageing Well) He Ora te Whakapiri brought together leading thinkers about life course research from New Zealand and overseas.

Videos from the day are now available

Juliet Gerrard

PM’s Science Advisor opens symposium

The symposium was opened by Professor Juliet Gerrard, the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.  Throughout the day, speakers focused on how to improve the health and wellbeing of people from birth to old age and support better lives and brighter futures for the country.

The shape of things to come


Healthier Lives Director Professor Jim Mann chaired a wide ranging session on ‘Future directions of life course research’.  Professor Rod Jackson, Healthier Lives Co-Principal Investigator, presented a counter-intuitive view that, for cardiovascular disease (CVD), there are real gains to be made in targeting preventions to older adults. He spoke about recent research which has identified reversible factors in adult life, and argued there has been a large decrease in CVD mortality irrespective of early life environment.

Life course research consistent with Māori world views


Dr Matire Harwood, Healthier Lives Principal Investigator, participated in a panel chaired by Dr Reremoana Theodore on how Māori researchers approach life course research.  She commented that “it’s difficult to get diabetes under control when the rest of life is difficult so that’s where the work needs to happen”.  She added that “if you get it right for Māori, all New Zealanders will benefit.”   Dr Theodore, co-Director of the National Centre for Lifecourse Research, said:  “Taking a life course approach is about more than just producing academic outputs. Life course findings are used to inform policy and practice in Aotearoa.”

Workshopping for the future

At a cross-Challenge workshop the following day, discussion turned to building collaborative approaches to ensure that future life course research, including inter-generational research, promotes wellbeing and equitable outcomes. Professor Mann said the discussions at the symposium and workshop aimed to clarify which interventions can be tested and translated into actions most likely to improve the health of New Zealanders.

For more information please visit:

Watch videos from the day on YouTube (7 videos between 4 and 70 minutes)

Related News:

Dr Reremoana Theodore: Using life course research to support positive Maori futures, Radio Waatea (10m7s)

Healthier Lives at He Ora Te Whakapiri
Members of the Healthier Lives – He Oranga Hauora National Science Challenge at He Ora Te Whakapiri

Related links:

He Ora te Whakapiri

National Centre for Lifecourse Research

A Better Start National Science Challenge

Ageing Well National Science Challenge

Story originally published 7 November 2018.

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