Professor Rachael Taylor, leads A Better Start’s strategic research project, Moemoea, which looks at sleep, health, communication & wellbeing of pepi and their whānau. 

Can you tell us about Moemoea and why it’s important?
Getting sufficient good quality sleep is critical for children to grow well, feel good, and cope with daily life. Interventions in predominantly European populations have shown that sleep interventions in infancy can substantially reduce the risk of overweight in childhood. However, little attention has been paid to developing sleep and wellbeing interventions that meet the needs of Māori and Pacific whānau, despite these groups being at greater risk of the health outcomes associated with poor sleep.

What stage is your research at?
We are currently working with Māori and Pasifika whānau and organisations to determine why and how sleep affects their health, and what would help them to improve sleep in their pepi and tamariki, before undertaking an intervention trial in 2021.

As a researcher, what makes you excited about this project?
Working with communities to make a real difference to their lives by developing resources that are attractive, feasible and desired – and that have the potential to improve wellbeing, sleep and connectedness among whānau.

What do you love about working with A Better Start?
The ability to work collaboratively across a wide range of disciplines that I have not previously been involved with, and the focus on making a real difference.

The wellbeing of pepi and whanau is a key focus of your work. What do you do to look after your own wellbeing?
Sleep well of course (well I try to anyway), being active, spending time with friends and family.

The best piece of advice you have ever received? Live life to the fullest.

A great book you have read recently? Anything by Karin Slaughter.

The five people (living or not) you would love to meet? Michelle Obama, Martin Luther King, Elvis, Rosa Park, Cleopatra.

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Photo of Rachael Taylor courtesy of the University of Otago.