Massey researchers to present at World Conference on Health Promotion

Source: Massey University

Felicity Ware from Te Pūtahi a Toi: School of Māori Knowledge, will have an exhibit at the World Conference on Health Promotion, and present on teaching whānau how to weave their own wahakura – woven harakeke basket for babies to sleep in.

Massey University staff and students will be well represented at the 23rd World Conference on Health Promotion, to be held in Rotorua from Sunday.

The theme for this year’s conference is Waiora: Promoting Planetary Health and Sustainable Development for All. The conference, which is run by the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE), is held every three years, around the world. This is the first time New Zealand has hosted the conference, which will involve up to 3000 delegates from New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific Islands, the wider Asia-Pacific region, Europe, Americas, Middle East and Africa. The conference will have a strong indigenous component around Māori and Pasifika and will be the biggest event ever held in Rotorua.

The College of Health has more than 17 staff and PhD students presenting, including College of Health Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane Mills.

Dr Victoria Chinn will present her research, entitled Women unveiling their health potential: A way forward for empowering health promotion interventions.

“Health promotion adopts a positive, holistic, participatory and empowerment focused approach to health, yet many women’s health programmes set weight-loss as the primary goal for success, which has not only proven to be largely ineffectivebut also damaging to women’s health,” Dr Chinn says.

“This study introduces a health programme that aligns to the values of health promotion and with prospects to create sustainable change conducive to women’s health. The programme, Next Level Health, applies participatory methods for women to determine their own goals across six key health areas: physical activity, sleep, nutrition, eating behaviour, stress management and self-care, with the core aim of gaining more control over their health.”

Sixty women took part in the programme, which ran over a six-month period, and included a twelve-month follow up. Each month the participants met to reflect on the goals they had set, and to set new ones, with the aim to progress their self-defined goals by the end of the programme. Data was collected via a series of questionnaires at the beginning of the programme, at six months and at 12 months.

“Women progressed across an average of 29 levels, out of a possible 36, and significantly gained greater control over their health. The programme enabled women to create health routines in their everyday lives; broaden their health perspective to consider physical, mental and social dimensions as relevant to their health; improve their functional, interactional and critical health literacy; and more fully realise their potential for health in a process of self-actualisation,” Dr Chinn says.

“These findings suggest a holistic approach to health may be more effective for sustainable behaviour change focused on a balance of positive health behaviours rather than a weight-loss focused approach.”

Felicity Ware, Ngāpuhi, a lecturer from Massey’s Te Pūtahi a Toi: School of Māori Knowledge, will have an exhibit at the conference, and present on teaching whānau how to weave their own wahakura – woven harakeke basket for sleeping baby (pēpi).

“Wahakura are individual hand-made safe sleep spaces for pēpi woven out of harakeke, using the tradition of rāranga [weaving]. They were developed as a contemporary kaupapa Māori innovation to safe co-sleeping, particularly for Māori who have a disproportionately high rate of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy [SUDI]. Wahakura also promote bonding, responsive parenting, breastfeeding and smokefree environments,” she says.

“Wahakura embody the significant connection between the Pā Harakeke [plantation] as a model of whānau development and te whare tapu o te tangata [womb]. The atua Hineteiwaiwa, goddess of female arts, presides over both, strengthening the link between harakeke, weaving, wahakura, and raising tamariki [children]. Wahakura have their own mana [spiritual vitality] and mauri [physical vitality] inherited from Papatūānuku, Hineteiwaiwa and the whānau and weavers involved,” Ms Ware says.

“Teaching whānau how to make their own wahakura is empowering them to literally and symbolically create their own pathways to wellbeing. It contributes to the revitalisation of Māori culture, positive cultural identity, and mana motuhake/rangatiratanga [self-determination], especially important for Māori who have been displaced or marginalised.”

The waikawa weaving style was developed as the most simplest version in order to teach those new to weaving how to create their own, she says. “Wahakura take about two full days to make from harvest to finish for a new weaver. Once dried, quality assured and fitted with a breathable mattress, a cotton sheet and a natural fibre blanket, wahakura are safe to sleep babies from newborn until about four to six months, and can be re-used as long as they meet quality standards.”

Massey University staff and students presenting at the conference:

Associate Professor Mary Breheny – Importance of early lives to inequalities in older age (research presentation)

Dr Victoria Chinn – Women unveiling their health potential: A way forward for empowering health promotion interventions (research presentation)

Dr Beven Erueti – Wairuatanga:  Integrating the fourth article of Te Tiriti o Waitangi into health promotion and health education (workshop)

Dr Geoff Kira – “Sometimes I just didn’t have the money”: Removing the barriers to consuming more fruit and vegetables. An exploratory study (research presentation), and Promoting Indigenous food sovereignty for enhancing food security, nutrition and health equity (symposium)

Professor Marlena Kruger – Dietary patterns associated with adiposity and bone mineral densityin older urban black South African women (research presentation)

Adjunct Dr Mat Walton – Implementing a health promotion initiative to achieve systems change: lessons from evaluation of Healthy Families NZ (research presentation) and Using Developmental Evaluation to inform systems change for health (oral presentation)

Professor Jane Mills – What can we do to address health challenges faced by communities? (sub-plenary session)

Christine Roseveare – Engaging public health students with equity: An innovative approach from an on-line New Zealand undergraduate course (oral presentation)

Sudesh Sharma and Associate Professor Rachel Page – Tobacco and alcohol use are playing critical role in the interaction of social determinants of non-communicable diseases in Nepal: a systems perspective (research presentation) and Health and social system challenges to tackle social determinants of non-communicable diseases in Nepal: a systems analysis (research presentation)

Dr Christina Severinsen and Angelique Reweti – Wai ora: Connecting tangata (people), hauora (health), and taiao (environment) through participation in waka ama (film screening and research presentation)

Professor Christine Stephens – The importance of housing to health: A Capabilities Approach to unequal trajectories of healthy ageing (research presentation)

Dr Agnes Szabo – Alcohol use across the life course: Influences on health in old adulthood (research presentation)

Dr Agnes Szabo, Associate Professor Mary Breheny and Professor Christine Stephens – Environments for health equity in older age: Taking a life course perspective (symposium) and Advocating for health equity (moderated discussion)

Chris Vogliano – Can leveraging agrobiodiverse food systems help reverse the rise of malnutrition while providing climate change resilience in Pacific Small Island Developing States? (research presentation)

Felicity Ware – Wahakura (art) and Wahakura wānanga (weaving workshop – oral presentation)

Interactive tool maps Auckland’s superdiversity

Source: Massey University

A screenshot of the superdiversity map for Auckland, part of an international population data comparison website.

A new interactive online tool that visually displays data about Auckland’s fast-growing and increasingly diverse migrant population will give government agencies, and groups such as employers and the media, a detailed understanding of super-diversity.

Massey University sociologist, Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley, with Robert Didham from Statistics New Zealand, helped to develop the Auckland section of the international data comparison site, called Superdiversity. He says the tool is an accessible way to find information on the nuances and trends about diversity and migration.  It is also designed to help to provide an understanding about differences between and within migrant communities. 

“We are trying to better understand the diversification of diversity in gateway cities,” Professor Spoonley says.

Interactive graphics allow users to fill in key characteristics – such as age, sex, ethno-cultural background and immigrant status – and to see the predicted socio-economic prospects under five indicators; employment, tertiary qualifications, home ownership, income and English language ability. It also maps data for a precise visual display of the geographical distribution of migrant communities, with cross-tabulation of data on a range of socio-economic and lifestyle indicators.

The project, created by the German-based Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, focuses on three gateway cities – Vancouver, Sydney and Auckland – to develop this new tool. All three are examples of super-diversity where more than 25 per cent of the population is born overseas and immigrant-related diversity has shaped these cities. 

Professor Spoonley worked on the diversity site with fellow demographers studying international trends in immigration and who are concerned at recent debates, which he says often simplify and define migrant groups by a narrow set of characteristics. This can result in misrepresenting and distorting the realities of immigration. 

Demographer Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley.


Understanding differences and nuances within migrant communities

While many tend to talk about “the Chinese community”, or “the Indian community” as if they are homogenous entities, the reality is that there are major differences within every migrant community based on age, gender, education and socio-economic status or the length of time in New Zealand, Professor Spoonley says. 

“If you look at the Chinese community in Auckland, those aged between 18 to 25 years are very different to those aged 40 to 45 in terms of their English language use, work experiences, family relationships and lifestyle,” he says.

It is important that policy makers, businesses and employers – as well as the wider society – has a better understanding and appreciation of these complexities if we want a more harmonious, cohesive society, he adds.

The site says that, “nearly 40 per cent of metropolitan Auckland’s residents, as recorded in the 2013 census, were born outside New Zealand, and the corresponding figures for Sydney and Vancouver in 2016 were, respectively, 43 and 41 per cent. All three are on a path to become ‘majority-minority cities’, with populations that trace their ancestry to Asia, Latin America, and Africa projected to exceed those who identify as European in origin.”

Professor Spoonley, Pro Vice-Chancellor for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, is the co-chair of Metropolis International – the world’s foremost network of researchers, government officials, international organisations and civil society groups concerned with migration and diversity – as well as a Fellow of the German-based Max Planck Institute. He leads the Capturing the Diversity Dividend of Aotearoa/New Zealand (CaDDANZ) project researching diversity in New Zealand, conducted by Massey and Waikato Universities and funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Opinion: A caravan of desperation and hope

Source: Massey University


Life in Honduras is difficult and dangerous for most Hondurans who are under threat from gangs, drug cartels, political corruption and more. (photo/Sharon McLennan)


by Dr Sharon McLennan

Honduras is a wonderful place for a short visit, despite its reputation as a one of the most dangerous places on the planet. Like New Zealand, it is a small, beautiful country with an abundance of natural resources and a warm, welcoming culture.

It was a great place to visit with my family for a month in September this year, and a fascinating place to do research and volunteer work. But it is a very hard place to live, so when news emerged of a caravan of migrants making their way across Guatemala and Mexico to the USA, I wasn’t surprised. Here are my five reflections on life in Honduras and the origins and implications of the caravan.

Firstly, the place migrants are leaving is more important and relevant than the place they are going to. Political corruption and repression, gangs, drug cartels, land pressures and climate change make life very difficult for most Hondurans, and impossible for some. Every Honduran has a story of violence. Business owners sleep on the premises with a gun for protection, and drivers carry extra cash to pay corrupt police if pulled over. People avoid the centre of large cities wherever possible.

For those who have crossed paths with the gangs or drug cartels, dared to protest against the government, or tried to stand up for community rights in the face of mining corporations and dam builders, it is unimaginably difficult.

Independence Day parade in Honduras (photo/Sharon McLennan)


US meddling in elections?

In 2017, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace noted that in Honduras, “corruption is the operating system”, with “repression… carefully targeted for maximum psychological effect”. When conditions are this bad, large-scale migration is inevitable, and many of these migrants are in effect refugees.

Second, rather than being the victim of a migrant invasion, the USA is complicit. While local elites and politicians carry much of the blame for the chaos, decades of US meddling in the region has played a significant role. Poverty and inequality in Honduras has roots in the activities of American fruit companies throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The current instability can be traced to the 2009 coup, the success of which was partly attributable to US policy. 

More recent meddling includes the endorsement of the fraudulent election of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández in 2017. Since that election there has been another major increase in political violence and repression. Through close ties with the Honduran business elites, US and transnational corporate interests are also linked to the repression of environmentalists and indigenous leaders. 

Third, although the caravan seems huge to us this is just a drop in the bucket, with more than 300,000 individuals crossing the border illegally from Mexico into the USA in 2017 (an historic low – down from 1.6 million in 2000). It is as also just a tiny fraction of the number of undocumented migrants, refugees and asylum seekers worldwide. 

However this caravan is part of a trend towards migrants and refugees travelling in larger groups, with the journey through Mexico being incredibly dangerous. For example, rape is very common. Amnesty International estimates that 60 per cent of women and girls who attempt the journey individually or in small groups are raped en route, and girls as young as 12 take measures to avoid pregnancy.

Despite high levels of crime and corruption, Honduras is a beautiful country rich in natural resources. (photo/Sharon McLennan)


Migrants and refugees need protection, not stigmatising

Fourth, individual stories often get lost in the numbers and rhetoric. Focusing on the numbers lends credence to the rhetoric of invasion. It is important to remember that each member of the caravan is a person, with a story, a family, and dreams for the future. The caravan includes many young men, but rather than being criminals to be feared many are escaping the gangs, planning to work hard to send money home to families in Honduras. Indeed, the remittances that will be sent by migrants and refugees is of far greater value to Honduran development than any official aid, reducing poverty and increasing household spending across Honduras. The key to reducing future migration may well be development stimulated by the money these migrants will send home.

Finally, this caravan might seem far away and irrelevant to us here in New Zealand, and (as my Honduran husband can attest) the number of Central Americans that reach here is tiny. However, we should take notice, because the global climate that has both led to the emergence of migrant caravans and the racist, anti-immigration rhetoric of Trump and others affects us too. 

The rhetoric of Australian politicians and their refusal to show any compassion towards those that attempt to reach their shores should sound a warning here. Generalising and stereotyping migrants and refugees is a dangerous step towards an even more insecure world, where those who already have the good life are protected, and those who don’t are stuck in a no-man’s land of poverty, violence and insecurity. Compassion and recognition of the humanity of refugees and migrants is an important step towards building a more secure future and a peaceful world.

Dr Sharon McLennan is a Development Studies lecturer in the School of People, Environment and Planning at Massey University.

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Sociologist awarded for support to Chinese migrants

Source: Massey University


Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley giving his acceptance speech at the awards, pictured with Jenny Wang, executive director of CNSST – an organisation supporting new Chinese migrants.


Sociologist Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley has been given a special award by the Chinese community in recognition of his cultural and educational support.

Professor Spoonley, a renowned demographics researcher and media commentator on issues including immigration, population, employment, racism and race relations, was one of 10 individuals and organisations recognised by the CNSST Foundation (formerly known as the Chinese New Settlers Services Trust) for their support and contribution over the last two decades. 

The organisation is a public trust that helps the Chinese community, especially the new immigrants, in various ways, including with English language acquisition, preparation for employment, educational courses and most recently, accommodation for elderly Chinese. 

“It is now probably the largest Chinese organisation of its sort and provides an extensive range of services to the community,” says Professor Spoonley, who is Pro Vice-Chancellor for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

His award was in relation to his membership of one of their advisory boards, advising executive director Jenny Wang and her staff on trends and options, and the partnership between CNSST and the research organisation he leads:Capturing the Diversity Dividend of Aotearoa/New Zealand (CaDDANZ).

“In the past, CNSST have used Massey’s Albany campus for Chinese language maintenance for younger members of the Chinese community and Chinese cultural activities such as calligraphy. Two of CNSST senior managers, Jenny Wang and Bill Guan, have advised Massey University on relations with the Chinese community,” he says.

Professor Spoonley said the award, presented at a gala dinner in Auckland, was “a complete surprise and a real honour to be acknowledged in this way.”

“CNSST do some great work in the Chinese community but they do much more – they build stronger and better-connected communities, and not just with their own community,” he says. “It’s been a lot of fun working with them and also inspiring – a community helping its own to settle in New Zealand.”

 

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World Values Survey asks what NZers think

Source: Massey University

Gearing up for the next wave of the World Values Survey in New Zealand; Dr Paul Perry, Dr Polly Yeung and Professor Graeme Fraser.

Questions about Kiwi values have been at the forefront of politics recently, with New Zealand First’s proposed ‘values’ bill for migrants and National’s meltdown over allegations about foreign donors, ethnic candidate selection and sexual conduct.

A chance for citizens to describe their values is coming up with the latest World Values Survey, held every six years in around 70 countries. The survey asks New Zealanders to respond to questions on diverse topics to contribute to the world’s largest social science database.

Massey University social scientists coordinating the New Zealand segment of the survey say it provides a rich source of data. The data is freely available to a wide range of researchers from universities, government and numerous social agencies, to international organisations seeking understanding and solutions to complex global issues. 

Dr Paul Perry, a sociologist at Massey’s School of People, Environment and Planning who has helped run the last five of six waves conducted here and is gearing up for the seventh wave, says it is vital for New Zealanders to take part. The survey, he says, explores people’s beliefs and values, how they change over time, and what social and political impact they have. He has been a principal investigator for the New Zealand survey since the 1980s and says current global tensions – including the rise of populist leaders, mass migration and massive, rapid demographic and technological changes – mean it is important we can see how our society is tracking alongside other nations.

Questions – from free-range eggs to free market economics

The survey is comprehensive, posing hundreds of questions, including on political participation and views such as; Should you be taxed to keep the environment clean? Is it OK to eat eggs from ‘battery hens? Have private prisons? Armed cops? Do you believe in God, global warming, or free-market capitalism? 

Questions come under a range of headings, including social values, attitudes and stereotypes; societal wellbeing; social capital, trust and organisational membership; economic values; corruption; migration; security; science and technology; ethical values and norms and a range of topics on politics (interest, participation, culture, regimes). The postal survey goes out to a random sample of over a thousand people drawn from the electoral roll.

Data from the New Zealand survey results and the world survey more generally have been cited in thousands of publications, including books and journal articles, over the years, says Dr Perry, who is working with Dr Polly Yeung, from the School of Social Work, on the current survey.

The World Values Survey was originally designed to test the hypothesis that economic and technological changes are transforming the basic values and motivations of the publics of industrialized societies. The surveys build on the European Values Study (EVS) first carried out in 1981. 

Tracking views on the environment and neoliberalism

Dr Perry, an honorary research associate who has worked at Massey for over four decades, has published his own research on a wide range of topics, including attitudes to barking dogs and victims of dog bites to contraceptive knowledge and attitudes towards abortion in provincial New Zealand.

He says research topics of most interest to him in recent times are; “environmental beliefs, and beliefs about what one might call neoliberalism or market fundamentalism.  

“In particular, the interface of these two areas has interested me. Much of the world in the last three to four decades has been shaped by the apparent ascendancy of beliefs in the free-market and minimising government intervention. 

“I suspect such beliefs are often seen by many people as ‘givens’, something you don’t really question – like gravity. From earlier values surveys, when I looked at the correlations between progressive environmental views and views toward neoliberalism, one might expect a negative correlation, but what I found was very little correlation at all. Being progressive in one area of life (like the environment) did not necessarily mean questioning the idea of the free market solving most problems,” says Dr Perry.  “I have some sense that this might be changing of late – for example, democratic socialism in the USA seems much less of a ‘dirty word’ amongst younger people than it once did, and more recent World Values Survey data will help explore this.”

Dr Yeung says she is excited to be working on the survey for the first time. “New Zealand is becoming more diverse in population, so it is important to understand people’s views and how they compare with our global counterparts,” she says. “As a researcher, it is important to have reliable and strong data to provide credible evidence-based information to inform policy-making and practice. Geographically, New Zealand is quite isolated from the world so it’s vital that we are part of this World Values Survey so that we can be compatible and be recognised from other countries.” 

Dr Yeung was born in Hong Kong and went to secondary school in Canada before her family moved to New Zealand in 1994. Her motivation as a social science researcher stems from wanting to help people. “As I got older I realised that helping is not enough. It’s important to consider how the infrastructure, environment and the wider system impact on people’s wellbeing. I’ve found social work is able to give me the skills and knowledge to make changes at both micro and macro levels.” 

Dr Perry, who is originally from Chicago and did his PhD at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu,

started university as an economics major but switched to sociology because he felt; “as a critical discipline, it seemed to offer the ability to understand the way society and the world actually worked, rather than what conventional wisdom would have you believe.”

Researchers are currently finalising funding for the costs of conducting the survey, which will be sent out early in 2019, and collated by the Massey team.

Promoting health through waka ama

Source: Massey University


From left: Dr Christina Severinsen and Angelique Reweti have been researching the social, cultural and health benefits of waka ama.


Waka ama (outrigger canoe) is one of the fastest growing sports in Aotearoa New Zealand. Now Massey University researchers have joined advocates who increasingly see the activity as a vehicle for hauora (health) promotion. As well as the physical benefits for paddlers, it also has a strong tikanga (customs and traditional values) and encourages te reo Māori through karakia (prayer), waiata (song) and the general terms used associated with waka. 

As part of new research from the College of Health, 16 members of a waka ama rōpu (group) were interviewed about the social, cultural and health benefits of the sport. The research is informed by kaupapa Māori (a Māori values framework) utilising narratives to understand the experiences of participants.

Dr Christina Severinsen and Angelique Reweti, Ngāpuhi, from the School of Health Sciences carried out the research, with the Heretaunga Ararau o Ngāti Kahungunu Waka Ama Rōpu, which is based on the Clive River in Hawke’s Bay.

Established in 2001, the paddlers come from many different backgrounds, but their involvement in waka ama brings them together as a uniting force. It brings a sense of wellbeing and connectedness with paddlers spending time together both on and off the water.

“Through a framework of Māori values and beliefs, waka ama improves the health of individual paddlers, their whānau and communities,” Dr Severinsen says. “It’s unique as a sport, because as well as the physical benefits for paddlers, it also has a strong tikanga connecting paddlers to each other through whanaungatanga [relationship/kinship] and manaakitanga, [hospitality] and to the environment through concepts of kaitiakitanga [guardianship/protection], all of which have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.”

She says the findings contribute to the evidence base of effective indigenous health promotion, bridging the gap between academia and local community action. “The experience of waka ama is central to health development and maintenance and the kaupapa is a positive resource for paddlers to draw on.”

Ms Reweti says increased access to cultural resources through waka ama is seen as key to good health. “Waka ama is an example of health promotion within an indigenous context, where Māori values and practices are foundational.”

The researchers also produced a short film, showcasing waka ama and its contribution to the health of paddlers, featuring interviews with paddlers and footage of waka ama action. Click here to watch the video.

Seniors gather data on age-friendly communities

Source: Massey University

(From left) Carol Brunton, Potace Bennett and Doug Neilson, three of the volunteers collecting information about Napier’s neighbourhoods. (photo credit/Kirsten Simcox, Napier City Council)

Professor Christine Stephens, from the Health and Ageing Research Team (HART) at Massey’s School of Psychology, says the pilot scheme is being rolled out in Napier, Levin, Foxton, Wellington and Dunedin, with the help of volunteers from Grey Power, Māori Women’s Welfare League and other community and senior advocacy groups.

From cracked pavements and pot holes to poor street lighting and overly steep inclines, the aim is to identify the age-friendliness of New Zealand’s residential areas and where improvements are needed, as well as to identify strengths. It is in response to the reality of our ageing population set to burgeon in the coming decades.

Councils need to factor in the needs of older people living in the community for civic planning, says Professor Stephens, who is co-leader of a longitudinal study on the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders as they age, and has investigated diverse issues, including housing, transport, work, social connections, and technology.

This latest project is trialling the participatory research tool OPERAT (Older People’s External Residential Assessment Tool), where seniors collect information about their local neighbourhoods. It was developed by Welsh researchers Professor Vanessa Burholt and Dr Matthew Roberts, at the Centre for Innovative Ageing, Swansea University.

Professor Stephens says the project is empowering for volunteers because they are helping to ensure the needs of their age group are being considered. They are provided with a manual, survey questions and clipboard and can enter the data they collect online or by posting it to the research team. Professor Stephens and research officer Daygan Eager have been running training sessions and focus groups with volunteers around the country.

In Napier, volunteer data collectors, including members of Napier City Council’s Positive Ageing Strategy Reference Group, Napier Community Patrol, Age Concern Napier, and Māori Women’s Welfare League, have just begun a month-long data collection period. It is the only New Zealand city to receive central Government funding for an age-friendly project, from the Office for Seniors, which is part of the Ministry of Social Development.

The volunteers will be making observations from the street about property, for example, the state of footpaths, street lights, noise, traffic, and green spaces. The information they collect may be used by Council to help inform its Positive Ageing Strategy, and by other organisations wanting to build a picture of how ‘age friendly’ our communities are, says Craig Ogborn, communications and marketing manager at the Napier City Council.

The OPERAT tool is a visual checklist of 17 items, completed on location in a meshblock area. Meshblocks usually contain about 20 properties. When the assessment is completed the results from the 20 properties are used to calculate an overall score for the meshblock area. Scores are calculated for four subscales that capture: Natural Elements; Incivilities and Nuisance; Navigation and Mobility; and Territorial Functioning.  

The pilot is being funded by Massey University’s Strategic Excellence Research Fund, and Professor Stephens hopes to see it extended to other parts of New Zealand – particularly those with high proportions of older residents.

For information about OPERAT, and the map with the results:  https://www.operat.co.nz/

Ministry of Health renews contract for EHI programme

Source: Massey University


Back row (left to right): Caroline Fyfe, Allan Schori, Carolin Haenfling, Kirstin Lindberg and Agnieszka Kowalik-Tait. Front row (left to right): Rosemary Mwipiko, Helene Marsters, Kylie Mason, Mathu Shanthakumar, Associate Professor Deborah Read and Professor Barry Borman.


The College of Health’s Environmental Health Indicators (EHI) programme, led by Professor Barry Borman, has been granted almost $2 million in funding from the Ministry of Health, to continue investigating links between New Zealand’s environment and the health of Kiwis.

The contract renewal will allow the EHI programme, which started in 2009, to continue research for another three years. Professor Borman says the programme informs and provides statistics on how the environment affects the health of New Zealanders including traditional indicators such as air and water quality. 

The team has created a national hub for environmental health indicators. “This includes monitoring existing and developing new indicators, overseeing the Hazardous Substances Surveillance System that monitors injuries, disease and deaths related to hazardous substances exposure and includes GP notifications of hazardous substances diseases and injuries. Analysis from the programme is used as evidence for policy development and decision making in health-related sectors.”

Major stakeholders in the project are the Ministry of Health, Ministry for the Environment and the Environmental Protection Authority. 

“The focus of the programme is making information useful and relevant for a wide range of users: government departments, district health boards, public health units and local councils. The information is made accessible through factsheets, summary reports, various data visualisations, on the EHI website and the online atlas Healthspace.”

Professor Borman says the contract will also extend their areas of research including: developing EHIs for populations vulnerable to natural hazards, an environmental health profile for children and PAWS (people•animals•wellbeing•surveillance), a recently launched collaboration with Massey’s EpiCentre. 

College of Health Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane Mills says, “Renewal of the contract is recognition of the outstanding work our EHI team does in monitoring New Zealand’s environmental health. To have a contract renewed multiple times since 2009 is a wonderful achievement and should make the team proud of their work.”

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Blended, beanpole, biological? – changing family trends

Source: Massey University

The nuclear family of two parents and three children is no longer the predominant model

We are living and working longer, having less children and at a later age – so what does this mean for the future of the family, and how do we even define ‘family’? 

In a nationwide public lecture tour culminating in Auckland this week Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley shares insights on how the typical family has evolved since the 20th century and what the key influences and drivers are for these changes.

While major demographic changes in New Zealand are re-shaping notions of family/whanau, Professor Spoonley warns there is a lag in social policy to reflect these emerging changes. 

The days when the nuclear family was the predominant structure have well and truly gone and we are having to find new descriptions of what families look like – such as “beanpole families”, or longer, thinner family structures with less children and more generations present, says Professor Spoonley, Pro Vice-Chancellor for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. 

New technologies – and new social and cultural norms – have meant a growing number of non-biological parents and the use of surrogacy. Blended and same sex parent families are on the rise as a result of law changes introducing civil unions and same sex marriage. 

Millennials (or Gen Y, those born between the early 1980s and 1990s) are experiencing delayed – or ‘fuzzy’ – transition into adulthood. Childless couples and one child families are becoming more common, as are the number of people opting to living alone. The number of couples without children is expected to rise from 513,000 in 2013 to 757,000 in 2038.

The family norm of last century in New Zealand was three+ children with dad as the main breadwinner. The median age for women to marry was 22, only five per cent of women aged between 30 and 39 never married and the divorce rate was three couples per 1000 (in the early 1960s). Only five per cent of families were sole parent compared with 28 per cent now. The average age to marry is now 30, and the current rate is around 10 couples per thousand people, while the divorce rate is just over 12 per thousand. Forecasts for the next 20 years indicate most families will either have one child or be childless, says Professor Spoonley. 

“The Prime Minister [Jacinda Ardern] is increasingly typical of her generation – a working mother who has had her first child at age 37. The average age of the mother at first birth is creeping up – the largest number of children born last year were to women in their early thirties – and many are opting to have only one child – or none at all. Declining fertility is very apparent in the trends,” he says.

Sociologist Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley has been sharing insights on new trends in family structures


Home for longer

In other trends, young adults are likely to live with their parents for longer due to delayed – or no – home ownership, while many Baby Boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) are delaying retirement as they continue to work, travel, or care for elderly relatives or grandchildren. 

Professor Spoonley’s aim in his Wellington, Auckland, Palmerston North, Hawke’s Bay and New Plymouth lectures has been to stimulate conversation around these major drivers, and the social and economic impacts and opportunities they prompt. He hopes to raise awareness among communities, councils and policy makers of the need for “new thinking” to address profound demographic changes.

Professor Spoonley is a Principal Investigator on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment-funded programme, Capturing the Diversity Dividend of Aotearoa New Zealand (2014-2020); a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and of the Auckland War Memorial Museum; a Research Fellow of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity and recently elected co-chair of the steering committee for Metropolis International, the world’s largest network of migration and diversity researchers.

Blended to beanpole – changing family trends

Source: Massey University

The nuclear family of two parents and three children is no longer the predominant model

We are living and working longer, having less children and at a later age – so what does this mean for the future of the family, and how do we even define ‘family’? 

In a nationwide public lecture tour culminating in Auckland this week Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley shares insights on how the typical family has evolved since the 20th century and what the key influences and drivers are for these changes.

While major demographic changes in New Zealand are re-shaping notions of family/whanau, Professor Spoonley warns there is a lag in social policy to reflect these emerging changes. 

The days when the nuclear family was the predominant structure have well and truly gone and we are having to find new descriptions of what families look like – such as “beanpole families”, or longer, thinner family structures with less children and more generations present, says Professor Spoonley, Pro Vice-Chancellor for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. 

New technologies – and new social and cultural norms – have meant a growing number of non-biological parents and the use of surrogacy. Blended and same sex parent families are on the rise as a result of law changes introducing civil unions and same sex marriage. 

Millennials (or Gen Y, those born between the early 1980s and 1990s) are experiencing delayed – or ‘fuzzy’ – transition into adulthood. Childless couples and one child families are becoming more common, as are the number of people opting to living alone. The number of couples without children is expected to rise from 513,000 in 2013 to 757,000 in 2038.

The family norm of last century in New Zealand was three+ children with dad as the main breadwinner. The median age for women to marry was 22, only five per cent of women aged between 30 and 39 never married and the divorce rate was three couples per 1000 (in the early 1960s). Only five per cent of families were sole parent compared with 28 per cent now. The average age to marry is now 30, and the current rate is around 10 couples per thousand people, while the divorce rate is just over 12 per thousand. Forecasts for the next 20 years indicate most families will either have one child or be childless, says Professor Spoonley. 

“The Prime Minister [Jacinda Ardern] is increasingly typical of her generation – a working mother who has had her first child at age 37. The average age of the mother at first birth is creeping up – the largest number of children born last year were to women in their early thirties – and many are opting to have only one child – or none at all. Declining fertility is very apparent in the trends,” he says.

Sociologist Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley has been sharing insights on new trends in family structures


Home for longer

In other trends, young adults are likely to live with their parents for longer due to delayed – or no – home ownership, while many Baby Boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) are delaying retirement as they continue to work, travel, or care for elderly relatives or grandchildren. 

Professor Spoonley’s aim in his Wellington, Auckland, Palmerston North, Hawke’s Bay and New Plymouth lectures has been to stimulate conversation around these major drivers, and the social and economic impacts and opportunities they prompt. He hopes to raise awareness among communities, councils and policy makers of the need for “new thinking” to address profound demographic changes.

Professor Spoonley is a Principal Investigator on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment-funded programme, Capturing the Diversity Dividend of Aotearoa New Zealand (2014-2020); a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and of the Auckland War Memorial Museum; a Research Fellow of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity and recently elected co-chair of the steering committee for Metropolis International, the world’s largest network of migration and diversity researchers.