I am a doctoral candidate with the School of Population Health at the University of Auckland. My PhD will apply a systems science framework with Mātauranga Māori to catalyse obesity prevention actions in Hawke’s Bay (HB). HB has the second fastest growing rate of pre-schooler obesity in New Zealand and very low intake of fruit and vegetable. Past interventions, for example those focussing on physical activity in schools, have had limited engagement and often unsustainable impact. This approach seeks first to understand the underlying drivers of poor nutrition and obesogenic food environments in the region through a series of stakeholder interviews using cognitive mapping techniques. This will allow the identification of important themes and considerations for any potential interventions.
The second phase will involve a series of community workshops for group model building (GMB). A parallel series for high school students and community members will be run, aiming to build capability for local high school students, particularly those in priority areas, and to compare the final products of the GMB workshops between the community member stream and the student voice stream.
Systems Science approaches with community participation can achieve high levels of engagement effecting long-lasting systems change, in this case, improving the health of children in HB. Mātauranga Māori will be cornerstone in the approach, centering around the idea: He Wairua tō te kai. He Mana tō te kai.