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Māori Views and Experiences of Fertility, Reproduction and Art (Assisted Reproductive Technologies)

hekakano12006 - 2008  |  Health Research Council of New Zealand

Beginning with discussions with whānau, we found that those who had been involved in a range of fertility treatments revealed a lack of information, tikanga Māori and mātauranga Māori in regards to fertility, reproduction and ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies).  Seeing a need to find out more, a project proposal was developed and accepted by the Health Research Council.

The main aim of this Kaupapa Māori project was to gather information on the many ways Māori have (past and present) engaged with ART.

Our focus was within whānau, to help us understand the issues of fertility and ART.

Key members of the research team included Dr Paul Reynolds (lead investigator), Dr Cherryl Smith and Leanne Hiroti from Te Atawhai o Te Ao, as well as research support from other Māori researchers including Dr Leonie Pihama (MAIA Ltd), Dr Linda Smith (University of Waikato) and Carl Mika (University of Waikato).

We consulted with Māori researchers and networks on fertility, reproduction and ART, reviewing relevant literature, and recruited and trained research assistants.

We have completed a number of interviews with kaumātua and whānau that helped provide a greater understanding of fertility and ART experiences and views.

Key information from this project was disseminated within our communities, and at the end of the three years, we published a report describing Māori views and experiences of fertility, reproduction and ART.

The outcomes of this project included:

  • Traditional expressions of Māori reproduction;
  • Literature and baseline data related to Māori and fertility; and
  • Thematic analysis of narrative interviews – Pūrākau.

Other areas for improved health outcomes included:

  • Building Māori research capacity;
  • Provide an overview of Māori and fertility;
  • Raise awareness and an understanding of the access, utilisation and outcomes of fertility treatments;
  • Gathering a database of narratives about Māori and fertility; and
  • Build inter sectoral discussion about Māori fertility.
What did we do?

Our large and multiskilled team gathered kōrero and analysed sixty interviews.  Using thematic, narrative analysis a number of common themes emerged, alongside the collation and review of relevant literature, we were able to weave together the views and experiences of whānau in relation to fertility, reproduction and ART.

The research team came together for the first Fertility writing retreat near Kaiwhaiki, along the Whanganui Awa in July.  The peaceful setting enabled the team to focus on reading the gathered kōrero, sharing these powerful stories and identifying key themes that will shape the final findings of this research. Two further writing retreats were planned for September and November, at which time more indepth analysis, discussion and writing was carried out by the research team.

We have gathered stories of those wishing to participate in this study, and our wide network of researchers from the Far North to Te Waipounamu enables researchers within their own rohe to talk to whānau. None of this research would be possible without the willingness of whānau, kuia, kaumātua and key informants to share their own stories and experiences with us. We are also grateful for all of the hard work our team had done; from our community researchers, advisory group, Te Atawhai o Te Ao whānau and to our research team.

Thanks also go out to the Health Research Council who have enabled us to work within our own communities to gather valuable stories and experiences related to whānau, fertility, reproduction and ART.

It was timely that this research was completed, as growing numbers within our communities are thinking about whānau – having children, the complications that arise for those who are not able to have children and the increasing number of ways in which whānau can be grown and nurtured.

Researchers: Dr Paul Reynolds, Dr Cherryl Smith and Leanne Hiroiti.

Publications List

Gift of Children: Māori and Infertility by Dr Paul Reynolds and Dr Cherryl Smith.