13 Nov 2019

Researcher to put spotlight on health and well-being of Niueans

2:11 pm on 13 November 2019

A Waikato University student seeking to improve understanding around the mental health of Niueans in New Zealand has received Health Research Council funding.

Waikato University PhD student Jessica Pasisi in Niue.

Waikato University PhD student Jessica Pasisi in Niue. Photo: Supplied.

Jessica Pasisi has received more than $US220,000 for her postdoctoral research, which will focus on Niuean health and happiness.

There had been research on negative aspects like family violence and alcohol use in the past, she said, but it was also important to look at what made communities successful.

"What do things like happiness look like for our communities and for Niue? We have such a diverse culture and community because we have that diasporic link.

"So what does that look like in both settings in Niue and our setting in Aotearoa and how can we make the most of that?"

Ms Pasisi said it was also important to focus her work around culture.

"It's about centering Niuean culture and identity throughout the research.

"Being able to think about Niuean sources of information and knowledge, using our oral narratives but also our written narratives, our visual narratives, connecting ourselves to the environment. All of these different aspects that are integral to our Niuean culture," she said.

Ms Pasisi recently completed work around climate change and its impacts on Niuean women and she said her latest research was a natural progression from that.

Ms Pasisi, whose father is Niuean, said she had a vested interest in the topic and hoped to improve inter-generational knowledge transfer through her work.