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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 19(1)

Evaluating a healthy eating, healthy action program in small M?ori communities in Aotearoa, New Zealand

Christine Mercer A D, Denise Riini A, Heather Hamerton B, Laurie Morrison C and Brighid McPherson A

A Waiariki Institute of Technology, Te Puna Whai Ora, School of Nursing and Health Studies, Private Bag 3028, Rotorua 3046, New Zealand.
B Taiorangahau Pacific Coast Applied Research Centre, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Private Bag 12001, Tauranga 3143, New Zealand.
C Morrison Consultants Ltd, 1 Ariariterangi Street, Rotorua 3046, New Zealand.
D Corresponding author. Email: Christine.Mercer@boppoly.ac.nz

Australian Journal of Primary Health 19(1) 74-80 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/PY11096
Submitted: 15 August 2011  Accepted: 7 February 2012   Published: 29 March 2012

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Evidence from health surveys have identified that Māori, the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand, experience a high incidence of obesity with physical and social implications. In 2000, the New Zealand Government introduced a strategy aimed, among other objectives, at improving nutrition, increasing physical activity and reducing obesity through a ‘Healthy Eating Health Action’ (HEHA) strategy. As part of the HEHA strategy, a Māori primary health organisation (PHO) in a regional centre of Aotearoa, New Zealand, developed a program aimed at improving the health of the local Māori communities. The program, called Project REPLACE, invited participants to gradually change their behaviour by replacing behaviours potentially detrimental to health with a healthier alternative. Between 2009 and 2010 a team of researchers evaluated the program, taking care to use Māori approaches when conducting the research. The findings from the evaluation were that each community was innovative in their approaches to implementing Project REPLACE, drawing on their culture to combine healthy eating with increased exercise activities as well as measurements of achievement. The relationship that each coordinator had with the community was pivotal to the success of the program. Project REPLACE highlighted the importance of Māori ownership and control of health initiatives.


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