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Open Access Research article

An indigenous approach to explore health-related experiences among Māori parents: the Pukapuka Hauora asthma study

Bernadette Jones1*, Tristram R Ingham1, Fiona Cram2, Sarah Dean3 and Cheryl Davies4

Author Affiliations

1 University of Otago Wellington, PO Box 7343, Wellington, New Zealand

2 Katoa Ltd., PO Box 105611, Auckland, 1143, New Zealand

3 University of Exeter, Devon, UK

4 Tu Kotahi Māori Asthma Trust, Wellington, New Zealand

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:228  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-228

Published: 15 March 2013



The prevalence of asthma for Indigenous New Zealand Māori is amongst the highest in the world. Recent evidence shows ethnic differences in asthma symptom prevalence in New Zealand have widened, with asthma symptoms and hospitalisation rates consistently higher for Māori across all age-groups, especially children and adolescents. This paper: outlines our qualitative, longitudinal research exploring the practical issues Māori children and their families face trying to achieve optimum asthma outcomes; details the research methods used within this study; and discusses the process evaluation findings of the features that made this approach successful in engaging and retaining participants in the study.


Thirty-two Māori families were recruited using a Kaupapa Māori (Māori way) Research approach. Each participated in a series of four in-depth interviews that were carried out at seasonal intervals over the course of one year. Families also took part in an interviewer-administered questionnaire and participated in a Photovoice exercise. All interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and independently coded by two researchers. The research team then conducted the analysis and theme development. The questionnaires were analysed separately, with explanations for findings explored within the qualitative data.


The methodology produced a 100 percent retention rate of the participating families over the course of the follow-up. This was attributed to the research collaboration, the respectful research relationships established with families, and the families’ judgement that the methods used enabled them to tell their stories. The acceptability of the methodology will add to the validity and trustworthiness of the findings.


Given the extent and persistence of ethnic disparities in childhood asthma management, it is imperative that an indigenous approach be taken to understanding the core issues facing Māori families. By conducting community-partnership research underpinned by an indigenous methodology, and employing a range of appropriate methods, we have successfully recruited and retained a cohort of Māori families with experiences of childhood asthma. We aim to make their voices heard in order to develop a series of culturally relevant interventions aimed at remediating these disparities.

Māori; Indigenous; Qualitative; Methods; Asthma; Children; Experiences