Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, in partnership with ACC, is pleased to launch ‘Haumaru Tāngata: keeping our whānau safe’, a three-year research project that aims to help improve workplace injury and fatality statistics for Māori.

The project, which runs through to April 2023, and is the first of this scale in Aotearoa, is supported by $1.2 million of funding from ACC’s Workplace Injury Prevention Grant stream. It is designed to investigate initiatives that focus on sustainably improving the occupational health and safety system in Aotearoa.

Research lead Keri Topperwien says Haumaru Tāngata will provide the opportunity to better understand approaches to health and safety that are grounded in Te Ao Māori. 

“Research into other domains — for example, education and health research — have provided many learning opportunities and guidance around how kaupapa Māori-based approaches have positive impacts on outcomes for Māori,” says Ms Topperwien.

“We expect this research will identify similar learnings for workplace health and safety and help us design a kaupapa Māori-based framework for health and safety and injury prevention within high-risk sectors, such as forestry, agriculture, manufacturing, transport and construction,” she says.

“Māori are overrepresented in workplace injury statistics and are likewise overrepresented in high-risk sectors, with data showing that 17 per cent of those submitting workplace claims within these sectors identify as Māori.

“Haumaru Tāngata will be targeted at these high-risk sectors with the aim of reducing and preventing workplace injuries for Māori workers.”

Data from Statistics New Zealand shows that the rates of serious non-fatal injuries for Māori have been increasing since 2013. In 2017, an estimated 208 injuries per 100,000 people were recorded — the highest ever recorded for this group.

“Our hope is that the resulting framework will be used to improve injury and fatality statistics for Māori,” says Ms Topperwien.

Through collaborative partnerships with businesses and Māori employees, Haumaru Tāngata will explore how mātauranga (Māori knowledge) and tikanga Māori can support the creation of more effective, culturally inspired, workplace health and safety interventions. 

“We believe that a specific approach grounded in a Māori worldview, and with tikanga and Māori values at the core, will enable a conscious shift towards more culturally-responsive health and safety strategies that keep workers, our whānau and communities safe,” says Ms Topperwien.