Te Niwha to use on-the-ground experience to drive scientific research

By Stefan Dimitrof

A new research platform, Te Niwha, has been formed to strengthen New Zealand’s preparedness and response to emerging infectious diseases and pandemic outbreaks in the future.

It will be launched at the Tūrangawaewae marae by Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall.

The conception of Te Niwha arose after the government’s announcement of a $36 million research fund last year.

Te Niwha co-director Te Pora Thompson (Ngāti Hauā) said Environmental Sciences and Research (ESR) and Otago University are partnered with Te Niwha to research the preparedness for pandemic and emerging disease threats.

 Thompson said that during the pandemic iwi, communities, hapui and marae stood up when they were needed, playing a significant role in helping people and meeting their needs.

“The people should power the science, not the other way around.”

Thompson said that once the holes in current knowledge were identified, Te Niwha would be able to form a road for the next three years of research.

“Information comes from people on the ground: Who does work to get our babies vaccinated? What gets our people to engage with health services so that they are cared for a lot earlier? And once we get that in we will have a complete picture”.