Tāmaki Innovation Campus


Donna Ricci
Dr Donna Cormack

Dr Donna Cormack (Kai Tahu, Kāti Mamoe) has always been drawn to research that has a social justice focus, that is critical and that aims to improve things/change things for the better. The Senior Lecturer, Te Kupenga Hauora Māori, is the recipient of a $994,669 grant from the Health Research Council, “Te whakahaumaru taiao: safe environments for Māori medical practitioners” project.

She explains the rationale: “We were aware of the racism and other forms of mistreatment Māori were and are experiencing in the medical workforce, but we want to understand more about the extent of the issues, and the impacts that they are having for Māori. We want to work together to identify ways in which organisations and the health sector, more broadly, can meet its obligations to an environment that is free from discrimination and that supports the health of Māori working in the sector.”

“We are planning to undertake both qualitative and quantitative research, including interviews, focus groups, and a national survey of all Māori medical students and doctors, over the next year or so, as well as review interventions to address issues of bullying, discrimination, and harassment.”

Donna Cormack describes herself as a researcher and teacher. She has been working in Māori health research for nearly 20 years, with a particular focus on the conceptualisation and measurement of Māori health and ethnic health inequities, and on how colonisation and racism drives the health of indigenous people.

“I have always been committed to research that has a social justice focus, that is critical and that aims to change things for the better. Over the last decade or so, a lot of the work I do with colleagues is about understanding the multiple ways in which racism and other forms of discrimination and mistreatment impact on the health of Māori.”

“Much of that research has focused on the community more broadly, but we were aware that Māori in health training or working in the health sector also experienced racism and other forms of discrimination from other research and reports, and from talking with Māori medical students and doctors,” she says.

“This project aims to better understand the experiences that Māori medical students and doctors have in their education, training and work settings, and to explore how this impacts on their health and on their recruitment and retention in the workforce.

“We also want to explore how organisations and the health sector can act to eliminate bullying, harassment and discrimination. Māori have the right to work in environments that are safe, health-promoting and free from all forms of racism, discrimination, bullying and harassment.”

The research team involves researchers from both the University of Auckland and University of Otago, including Māori doctors, and will work closely with advisors and key organisations.