He waka eke noa

Better Together

Research excellence for healthy tamariki


A Better Start’s annual Symposium, He waka eke noa: Better Together, was held on May 24, 2019.

It provided the opportunity to bring our research teams together to build on existing relationships and make new ones to boost research collaboration.

The Challenge has begun the second five years of its mission to bring together the research that will contribute to happy, healthy and successful lives, and there are currently more than 160 researchers engaged with A Better Start projects.

Our three health related themes – Healthy Weight, Resilient Teens and Successful Learning and Literacy – and the underpinning Big Data approach, have made significant progress.

The Symposium allowed researchers to share what’s been happening and contribute their insight and questions to ensure the Challenge research is high quality, robust and will make a meaningful difference to tamariki throughout Aotearoa.

The Challenge’s science leadership also outlined a high-level view of the direction of research for the next five years to 2024.

Read the Media Release – Better Together 2019 symposium focuses on ways to give our tamariki a better start in life.

From left to right: Professor Wayne Cutfield, Director, Professor Gail Gillon, Co-Director, Professor Barry Taylor, Co-Director

A Better Start is planning an exciting new Symposium for 2020. 

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Highlights from He waka eke Noa 2019

  • A Better Start Science Advisory Panel members

Keynote speaker

Hoani Lambert

Deputy Chief Executive, Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Children


Hoani Lambert (Ngati Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa) is a career public servant and is currently the Deputy Chief Executive, Voices of Children at Oranga Tamariki—Ministry for Children. 

In this role Hoani is responsible for advocating for children and young people’s interests across the government system, ensuring their voices are at the centre of government policy, service design and delivery.  He is also responsible for overseeing his Ministry’s implementation of new legislative duties in relation to the Treaty of Waitangi.

As part of the current public service reforms in New Zealand, Hoani is leading a working group to develop a Māori cultural competency framework for senior public servants as part of the Leadership Success Profile (LSP). 

Although a specialist in communications, public relations and social marketing, Hoani has had a diverse range of professional roles. He has worked in parliament, directed biosecurity border operations and, most recently, worked as a diplomat with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Hoani holds an Executive Masters in Public Administration through the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG).

Read Hoani Lambert’s Keynote Address – Joining up Ministries for Child Wellbeing.




He waka eke noa Better Together 2019


Friday 24 May, 2019 | 8:00am – 4:30pm


The Kelliher Estate, 600 Island Road, Puketutu Island, Mangere Bridge, Auckland



Tea and coffee


Mihi whakatau

Professor Angus Macfarlane, Vision Mātauranga theme leader


Opening address

Hon Jenny Salesa
Minister of Building and Construction, and Ethnic Communities
Associate Minister of Education, Health, Housing and Urban Development



Keynote Speaker: Joining up the Ministries for child wellbeing

Chair: Pat Snedden, A Better Start Board Chair

Hoani Lambert, Deputy Chief Executive, Oranga Tamariki


Morning tea


Healthy Weight: Research outcomes and impact

Chair: Barry Taylor
Rachael Taylor – Theme Leader
Karen Leong, Eadaoin Butler, Evgenia Golovina, and Hannah Rapata, 



Big Data: Research outcomes and impact

Chair: Barry Taylor
Rick Audas –  Theme Leader
Barry Milne, Justine Camp and Rose Richards



Successful Learning: Research outcomes and impact

Chair: Gail Gillon
Brigid McNeill – Theme Leader



Resilient Teens: Research outcomes and impact

Chair: Gail Gillon
Sarah Hetrick and Tania Cargo – Theme Leaders
Kaumatua Rawiri Wharemate, Professor Sally Merry and Professor Jim Warren




Contestable Funding Presentations

Chair: Wayne Cutfield and Cure Kids representative, Dr Bruce Scoggins

Contestable Funding – Healthy Weight
Obesity Prevention using systems science – children and adolescents
Principal Investigator: Boyd Swinburn
Presenters: Nick Pattison and students from the Ormiston Junior College Accelerator Programme

Understanding barriers and facilitators to engagement in Whanau Pakari: an intervention for children with weight issues
Principal Investigator: Yvonne Anderson
Presenters: Cervantee Wild and Ngauru Rawiri

Contestable Funding – Resilient Teens

Te Taonga a Taku Ngakau: Ancestral Knowledge as a Framework for Wellbeing for Tamariki Maori
Principal Investigator: Leonie Pihama

High intensity interval training and mental health in adolescents
Principal Investigator: Nigel Harris

Health Intervention for Parents of Adolescents – preventing and reducing mental health problems in youth
Principal Investigator: Joanna Chu

Contestable Funding – Big Data
Principle Investigator: Cameron Grant
Presenters: Arezoo Malihi, Deborah Schlichting and Richard Portch

Contestable Funding – Successful Learning
Improving self-concept in children with literacy learning difficulties
Principal Investigator: John Everatt

Genetic diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Minds for Minds and Growing up in New Zealand cohorts
Principal Investigator: Jessie Jacobsen


Afternoon tea


International Expert Panel Presentation on Future Science Direction and Pathways to Impact 

Chair: Andrew Sporle – Senior Research Fellow (Honorary), The University of Auckland

Maree Teesson – Professor and Centre Director, Sydney Medical School, University of New South Wales Sydney
Rob Savage – Professor and Head of Department of Psychology and Human Development, University College London
John Lynch – Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, The University of Adelaide 
Laura Justice – Executive Director, The Crane Center for Early Childhood Research & Policy, The Ohio State University, US


Closing remarks

Wayne Cutfield



The Kelliher Estate, 600 Island Road, Puketutu Island, Mangere Bridge, Auckland

Friday 24 May, 2019 | 8:00am – 4.30pm

The Kelliher Estate, 600 Island Road, Puketutu Island, Mangere Bridge, Auckland 2022

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