About A Better Start

Healthy and successful lives for tamariki

Science Leadership

The challenge leadership team includes the Challenge Director, two Deputy Directors and theme leaders for each of the five research areas.

Professor Wayne Cutfield

Professor Wayne Cutfield

CHALLENGE DIRECTOR | Professor of Paediatric Endocrinology

Liggins Institute, University of Auckland

Professor Cutfield is an expert on insulin sensitivity and action in children, and leads clinical research which shows how environmental influences early in life can affect childhood growth and development in ways that could lead to chronic conditions in adult life.

Professor Gail Gillon

Professor Gail Gillon

DEPUTY DIRECTOR | Pro-Vice Chancellor

Education, Health and Human Development, University of Canterbury

Professor Gillon’s area of research focuses on understanding the relationship between spoken and written language development and, in particular, the importance of children’s phonological awareness to reading and spelling development.

Professor Barry Taylor

Professor Barry Taylor

DEPUTY DIRECTOR | Dean of the Dunedin School of Medicine

Otago University

Professor Taylor’s research interests have spanned paediatric endocrinology, sudden infant death syndrome (both epidemiology and the physiology underpinning the ability of infants to wake up on arousal), and the development of national mortality review for child and youth deaths.

Theme Leaders

Professor Rachael Taylor

Professor Rachael Taylor

Healthy Weight

Karitane Fellow in Early Childhood Obesity, Otago University
Associate Professor Sarah Hetrick

Associate Professor Sarah Hetrick

Resilient Teens

University of Auckland
Tania Cargo

Tania Cargo

Resilient Teens

University of Auckland
Professor Brigid McNeill

Professor Brigid McNeill

Successful Learning

School of Teacher Education,
University of Canterbury
Associate Professor Barry Milne

Associate Professor Barry Milne

Big Data

Director,
Centre of Methods and Policy Application in the Social Sciences (COMPASS),
University of Auckland
Professor Helen Moewaka Barnes

Professor Helen Moewaka Barnes

Kaupapa Māori

Helen Moewaka Barnes (Te Kapotai, Ngapuhi-nui-tonu) is the Director of Whāriki, SHORE and Whariki Research Centre Massey University. She has worked on research in many areas; more recently relationships between the health of people and the health of environments, sexual coercion, alcohol and youth well-being and identity. Her work is both qualitative and quantitative and she is also involved in developing research within Māori paradigms.

Professor Angus Hikairo Macfarlane

Professor Angus Hikairo Macfarlane

Kaihautu Māori

Māori Education Research Lab,
University of Canterbury

E Tipu e Rea (Grow and branch forth) is our Māori name.

The name comes from the leader and scholar Sir Āpirana Ngata. In 1949, shortly before his death, the Ngāti Porou leader wrote in the autograph book of schoolgirl Rangi Bennett a passage about this vision for Māori youth.

E tipu e rea mō ngā rā o tō ao
Ko tō ringa ki ngā rākau a te Pākehā
Hei ora mō te tinana

Ko tō ngākau ki ngā tāonga a ō tīpuna Māori
Hei tikitiki mō tō māhuna
Ko tō wairua ki tō atua
Nānā nei ngā mea katoa.

Grow and branch forth for the days destined to you
Your hands to the tools of the Pākehā
For the welfare of your body

Your heart to the treasures of your ancestors
adornments for your brow
Your spirit to god
Who made all things.

Acknowledgement

We would like to acknowledge the contributions of those who helped in our set-up phase:

Distinguished Professor Dame Jane Harding of the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland, Distinguished Professor Niki Davis of the University of Canterbury, Distinguished Professor Richard Faull of the University of Auckland, the late Emeritus Professor David Fergusson of the University of Otago and Cathy Wiley of the New Zealand Institute of Educational Research.