6. RSI funding for health research – health research council funds: included as an example for comparison

Specialist picture – insights to the wider RSI funding landscape.

6.1 The Health Research Council invests in Māori health research across a number of mechanisms

This analysis did not review the activities of the Health Research Council (HRC) to substantiate its performance, however publicly available information shows that the HRC demonstrates a commitment to advancing Māori health research and outcomes. We have included the HRC’s publicly available information and data, without further analysis.

The HRC actively monitors and reports on its spend and efforts on this commitment, across each of their 6 key funding mechanisms.

Key features of the HRC’s funding mechanisms are outlined below.

  • The existence of a statutory Māori Health Committee who recommend research projects to be funded by the HRC. The committee is responsible for distributing funds dedicated to Māori health research and career development.
  • Funding mechanisms that are entirely Māori-led, with some of these especially for community led projects, providing iwi, hapū, and other Māori organisations opportunities to conduct research that has a direct impact on their community.
  • Investing 10% or $12 million of total HRC investments in the Rangahau Hauora Māori funding stream. This stream is aimed at advancing Māori health and wellbeing and achieving health equity.
  • Supporting career development in Māori research, through Māori Career Development Awards, including scholarships, summer studentships and fellowships (equating to 2% of HRC funding invested).
  • Advancing Māori researchers, with 16% of researchers funded being Māori.
  • Requiring applicants for all HRC funding to consider how their research will advance Māori health. As part of the assessment process each research proposal’s potential to advance Māori health is now scored in line with HRC’s Māori Health Advancement criterion.
  • Reviewing proposals that are funded under major grant types to determine their relevance to Māori Development or Māori Advancement. This has been completed and reported on for the past 25 years using a relevance criterion that was set by an Expert Advisory Panel.

These features indicate that HRC funding mechanisms encourage and support Māori research, outcomes for Māori health, and researcher capability development, and that performance is actively and openly reported on.

The guidance, aims, and criterion of HRC funding mechanisms are clear, and aligned with Vision Mātauranga Policy, He Korowai Oranga (the Māori Health Strategy), the New Zealand Health Research Prioritisation Framework, and the New Zealand Health Research Strategy 2017 to 2027 to support effective investment decisions.

A significant proportion of the money that is awarded by HRC is invested to advance Māori health research, researchers, and outcomes. This is likely a direct reflection of the well-defined, well structured, and well communicated funding mechanisms and policies that HRC has in place.

6.2 – 35% of research in major grant types funded by the HRC in 2020/21 had relevance to Māori advancement

In the 2020/21 financial year 35% of the $81 million invested through HRC’s major grant types, was spent on research relevant to Māori Development and Māori Advancement.

This relevance is assessed by HRC staff in line with criterion developed by an Expert Advisory Panel over 25 years ago, and consistently applied to major grant types since.

6.3 – 14% of research funded by the HRC in 2020/21 was Māori-led.

In the 2020/21 financial year (to June) HRC paid out $118 million, across 826 active contracts. Of this, $16.7 million (14.4% of total spend) was invested in research that has a lead investigator who identifies as Māori, representing 152 active contracts, with a total allocated budget of $90.6 million.

Figure 12: Proportion of Māori-led HRC funded research, 2020/21

Last updated: 19 April 2023