In February, Hāpai te Hauora Senior Manager Stephanie Erick attended the 2nd workshop for the Pacific Health Governance Research Network (PHGRN) in Fiji hosted by the University of Queensland, the Pacific Community and Fiji National University. The PHGRN is building a network to create spaces for research partnerships between Pacific researchers and their stakeholders including Aotearoa, Australian and other international counterparts. The network focuses on health governance in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals agenda, seeking to help the region meet goals and targets, and ensure that no-one is left behind. From this conference, key research agenda areas identified are governance and policy, food and water security. Hāpai te Hauora has broad research interests which includes indigenous health practices and projects, measures to achieve Smokefree 2025, minimizing and preventing gambling harm technologies and behavior, and sudden unexpected death in infancy prevention. Currently Hāpai te Hauora are working in partnership with the National Institute of Health Innovation, University of Auckland on research projects relating to community policy development, vaping and a gambling harm prevention app. We continue to provide advice and support to other universities, including Otago University and AUT in Aotearoa New Zealand in regards to research related to Maori and Pacific whanau, smoking, vaping and gambling harm.

Through Hāpai te Hauora’s unique relationship with AUT Pacific Health Research Centre, we were able to maximise on meeting outcomes. The meeting aligns with Hāpai’s vision that aims to increase opportunities for the communities we serve to enjoy good health and to be sustained by healthy environments. We do this by providing a strategic focus that is underpinned by evidence based research for the advancement of health and well-being for all. In particular, in this case for Pacific communities. Our attendance has provided Hāpai and our communities better access to information, key informants and important research gaps facing Pacific communities. This meeting was acknowledged by SPC Director-General, Dr. Colin Tukuitonga, “The exchange of knowledge and experience is fundamental for us to gain the understanding we need to tackle the serious health challenges we face in the Pacific. SPC believes that an investment in strengthening PHGRN gives the entire region a clear path towards better health outcomes.”

For Hāpai, the immediate and beneficial outcomes for our mahi included strengthened relationships with Pacific academics to support our current MOH contractual outputs. Dr Jemaima Tiatia and Associate-Professor Vili Nosa in relation to Hāpai’s research collaborations with University of Auckland and our National Pacific Minimising and Preventing Gambling Harm Training forum. In addition, we were able to connect with a myriad of Pacific leaders from around the Pacific, in particular Dr Aumea Herman who welcomes our participation at the upcoming Smokefree 2025 conference in the Cook Islands.