Tāmaki Innovation Campus


Dr Matire Harwood Dr Matire Harwood

Dr Matire Harwood is last year’s L’Oréal UNESCO Women in Science NZ Fellow, an accolade she originally felt was ‘way out of her league’, but even a cursory glance at her research outputs shows it is very well deserved.

Dr Harwood, a senior lecturer in Te Kupenga Hauora Maori in the FMHS, is also a hardworking GP. “I saw the notice in 2016 and I thought it was way too big a step for me.  Then I went to an award dinner and realised I was the only one at the table without an award, so I took that as a challenge.  When the awards notice came out the following year, I thought ‘just go for it’”.

Part of her thinking was the large number of awards for seniors and juniors, but ‘not many for us in the middle’.

“I had to put aside any negative thoughts about my perception of my ability and finally got the application in within just hours of the finishing time and felt I had done a good job.”

From there Dr Harwood was shortlisted from the 400 applicants (and, still modest, felt her referees had made a significant contribution; particularly Professor Kath McPherson, CE at the Health Research Council and Professor Linda Smith, Pro Vice Chancellor at Waikato University).

“So, you can imagine my surprise, in the middle of clinic in Papakura and getting a phone call from L’Oréal and thinking “this is a sales call”, then finding out I’d won!”

The clinical researcher and GP has devoted her career to investigating conditions like cardiovascular disease, asthma, stroke and diabetes, in relation to Māori health.

She is currently working with the National Hauora Coalition on a project jointly funded by the Health Research Council, Ministry of Health and the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge, to improve outcomes for Māori living with diabetes.

The $25,000 grant received as part of her win, will be spread as widely as she can across a number of projects, including a research assistant to help correlate data already collected and writing retreats/coaching sessions with current PhD students.  She says, “Most of my students are mums who are working and studying, trying to complete degrees whilst applying for the next step in their careers, whether that’s an academic role or research grant.  I love that I get to help them with that”.