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Te Whaioranga web site

Development of Te Whaioranga web site

While working at CWA I led the research and design of the Te Whaioranga (Wellbeing) web site which was part of the Māori Responsiveness Strategy led by Pharmac New Zealand.

The site was designed as an advocacy and information tool for both families and healthcare professionals.


The research phase

As part of the work I co-designed a research plan and supporting materials with 3 Māori co-workers and a Māori facilitator (fluent in Te Reo Māori, the Māori language). As some of the team had never conducted field interviews I helped mentor them in how to facilitate an interview in a non-leading and open manner.

In 2009 the Māori attended the Matariki (the Māori new year) festival in Tauranga and interviewed 60 family members over a weekend. Additionally, we also met and interviewed a number of healthcare professionals around the North Island in New Zealand.

The team conducted a number of sense-making, card sorting and reflection sessions in order to synthesis all the data down into a findings’ report to both shape the direction of the project and ensure we had a clear understanding of Māori healthcare. The key findings and recommendation were presented to the stakeholders at Pharmac and we were given the approval to progress to the design and implementation phase of the project.

The research had been conducted in such a thorough manner that the stakeholders provide a deputy minister for health our report to be presented in cabinet as an example of an optimal approach to learn about key insights relating to Māori healthcare.

Te Whaioranga research report
Te Whaioranga research report

The key findings
The key findings

Our key findings were…

  • An authentic voice: People indicated the need for an authentic Māori voice to feature on the site.
  • Barriers to knowledge: Many medical sites provided only complex medical information that needed to be demystified to be understood by whānau.
  • Different ways to access information: With certain whānau not accessing the web site (or using a computer) there needs to be a range of support materials that can be accessed by GPs and (district) nurses and given to Māori patients.
  • Avoid duplication: There are many health information web sites available. It is important the Te Whaioranga site not replicate other sites, but fill in any gaps of information that is missing.
  • Focus on what matters: Direct contact (kanohi ki te kanohi) is still central for Māori when seeking information about themselves or their whānau. Health professionals report that their best work happens when it is face-to-face.
  • Start with positives instead of negatives: Focusing on the positive aspects of Māori tikanga (customs) should be a key characteristic of the web site. Negative messages may reinforce stereotypes, and act as a disincentive to change.
  • Tap into the family advocates: Māori women (Wāhine) tend to be the biggest advocates in family unites. If you want to Māori men (Tane) to think about and address their health issues, then messages need to be tailored towards getting Wāhine to prompt for action.


The design phase

Te Whaioranga home page
Te Whaioranga home page, with whānau (family) and professional entry points

Te Whaioranga - health professionals
Te Whaioranga health professionals section

Te Whaioranga - health professionals
Te Reo Māori featured heavily throughout the site

Te Whaioranga - whānau hoaora
Te Whaioranga whānau professionals section

Te Whaioranga - whānau hoaora
Case studies were an important part of having an authentic voice

Te Whaioranga - waiata
Te Whaioranga waiata (song of welcome) page


The research findings report