Honouring the legacy of Dr Paratene Ngata

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

A new health-research centre, Te Rangawairua o Paratene Ngata, has been opened at Te Whare Hauora o Ngāti Porou in Te Puia.

The centre will operate in partnership with the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Bio-discovery, a network of health researchers, scientists and providers. 

CEO at Ngāti Porou Hauora, Rose Kahaki says, "It's the heart of Ngāti Porou.  It holds a special significance to the people and Dr Pat, who the centre is named after, and it holds this amazing history that needs to continue."

The Ngata family gifted the name to the centre, to honour the memory of Dr Pat Ngata and his efforts to help the people of Ngāti Porou live healthier lives.

Professor Toni Merriman from The University of Otago says, "What we really want to is understand the exact causes of what's going on in the body to cause things like diabetes, gout, kidney disease, so it's getting down into the real hardcore biology and we need to know that so we can come up with better ways of treating diseases in Māori."

This centre provides a space to develop the health-research initiatives inspired by Dr Pat Ngata, and to continue the relationship with researchers from The University of Otago.

Professor Merriman elaborates, "People will come in for clinical studies where things are measured, like your response to a meal, taking blood samples, DNA."

Rose Kahaki says it's an opportunity for Ngāti Porou to continue the path laid out by Dr Ngata to determine their own health solutions.

"The vision or the dream going forward is that the next generation is way more healthier, they live longer and live better lives," says Kahaki.

Ngāti Porou Hauora will now look to appoint an individual to lead the research centre.