Meet our new Co-Director Dr Karen Brewer

Ko wai au?
Ko Tarakeha te maunga
Ko Opepe te awa
Ko Whakatoohea rāua ko Ngaiterangi ngā iwi
Ko Ngai Tamahaua rāua ko Tauwhau ngā hapū
Nō Aotearoa, Tiamana, Ingarangi, Aerana me Kōtirana oku tupuna
Kei Kirikiriroa tāku kainga inaianei
Ko Joan Moroney rāua ko Colin McLellan ōku mātua
Ko Karen Brewer tāku ingoa
Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa

I am honoured to be the new Co-Director Māori of Pūtahi Manawa. First, I acknowledge all that Anna Rolleston has invested in setting up and nurturing this CoRE and I’m grateful for her support as I step into this role.

My professional background is as a speech-language therapist, and I have a part-time role as a Senior Lecturer in Speech Science at Waipapa Taumata Rau | The University of Auckland. Someone asked me recently “what’s that got to do with the heart?!” That’s a fair question. I came to kaupapa Māori health research through my PhD and postdoc, which involved qualitative research with whānau Māori experiencing communication difficulties caused by stroke. When the postdoc came to an end, in the thick of COVID lockdowns, I was fortunate to be offered work as a Senior Research Fellow on Manawataki Fatu Fatu for ACCESS. Co-led by Dr Corina Grey and Assoc Prof Matire Harwood, Manawataki Fatu Fatu is a programme of research aiming to achieve equity in cardiovascular health outcomes for Māori and Pacific peoples. I have been working on the qualitative aspects of this programme, employing kaupapa Māori and Pacific research methodologies in interviews and focus groups with Māori and Pacific patients and their support networks, service providers and policy makers. I’ve learned a lot about the heart through this research, but I still have a lot more to learn.

I love Pūtahi Manawa’s “business not as usual” approach, although I admit that, as a kaupapa Māori researcher, it feels “usual” to me. I am passionate about growing the Māori and Pacific health workforces, both clinicians and researchers. The whānau I listened to during Manawataki Fatu Fatu interviews told many stories illustrating how important it is to have health care providers who share the patient’s cultural background and fully understand their context. When I think about my priorities for Pūtahi Manawa I am drawn to the words of Distinguished Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith in Decolonizing Methodologies. “Titiro, whakarongo … kōrero” (look, listen … speak) (p.137). 1.  As a newcomer to Pūtahi Manawa it is important for me to watch what is happening and listen to those who are already here before I speak. Likewise, it is important for Pūtahi Manawa to observe and listen to our communities before we act, and I look forward to being a part of this.


1. Tuhiwai Smith, L. (2021). Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books. Retrieved October 5, 2023, from