Integrated Research Modules

At the core of our research endeavours lie our Integrated Research Modules (IRMs), representing our flagship projects. These Modules employ a range of multidisciplinary approaches, such as Māori and Pacific methodologies, epidemiology, epigenetics, physiology, bioengineering, and clinical science, to effectively tackle specific heart health challenges.


Below are the core research projects Pūtahi Manawa fund, each holding the potential to make a significant impact to the health and wellbeing of our communities in the future. The projects all started in 2023.

Fiona McBryde

Dr Fiona McBryde

University of Auckland

Sweet pressure: Improving outcomes for people with diabetes and high blood pressure in Aotearoa

Amount awarded: $1,499,737

Most adults with diabetes also have high blood pressure and about half of people with high blood pressure don’t have good blood sugar regulation which can lead to diabetes. Good control of both high blood sugar and high blood pressure (“Sweet Pressure”) is essential for reducing risk of heart attacks and strokes.

In current health care, diabetes and high blood pressure are managed as different conditions. This programme of work will look for common links between the mechanisms regulating blood pressure and blood sugar. 

“We will co-create an outreach and education program to raise awareness about the dangers of Sweet Pressure and how to identify its presence. Our ultimate goal is to achieve improved and more equitable outcomes for people with Sweet Pressure in Aotearoa.”

Erina Korohina

Erina Korohina

The Centre of Health

Te Ara Poutama is a Hapori Māori-led Heart Health Research Programme, which is foundational for developing culturally-grounded approaches to equitable Māori heart health. This project was co-funded by with the Heart Foundation

Te ara Poutama: Living well with heart disease

Amount awarded by Pūtahi Manawa: $1,504,251

Heart Foundation co-funding: $1,023,041

The main anticipated outcomes include: 

  • establishing Pūtahi Manawa’s first Kaupapa Māori Heart Health Research Programme, that has meaningful Māori engagement embedded throughout
  • training 30 Māori into the multidisciplinary heart health workforce
  • co-designing, with Māori whānau living with heart disease, solutions from their lived experiences
  • gaining unique and important insights to factors that contribute to heart disease amongst Māori, and identifying the burden of heart disease for Māori including social, cultural, whānau, spiritual, emotional, psychological, and physical impacts, to enable improved Māori heart health.

“Taken together these outcomes have the potential to significantly improve Māori heart health in meaningful ways.”

Polona Le Quesne Stabej

Dr Polona Le Quesne Stabej

University of Auckland

Our heart, our genes, our story

Amount awarded: $1,500,000

Inherited heart diseases are a major cause of sudden unexpected death in young people. The genetic causes of these conditions have been researched for decades, but answers are found for less than half of patients. The chance of a genetic diagnosis is even less for patients from ethnic minority populations (including Māori and Pacific) because research has historically been biased to European ancestry and genetics. The purpose of this project is to find answers for families in Aotearoa where European-based genetic tests have failed to find a cause. 

We think that genome sequencing can find previously unknown genetic changes causing inherited heart conditions. By finding the disease-causing genetic changes that whānau may carry, we can raise community awareness of the power of gene sequencing, help transform their healthcare through earlier detection of whānau members who may carry the disease-causing gene, improve diagnosis of heart related genetic problems, and in some cases, provide genetically guided treatment and counselling.

Johanna Montgomery

Professor Johanna Montgomery

University of Auckland

Restoring the balance: Heart health of wāhine, Fafine, Va’ine, Fifine and Women in Aotearoa

Amount awarded: $1,515,106

In 2019, 275 million women were diagnosed with heart disease, with heart disease the cause of 35% of all deaths in women worldwide. Yet “Cardiovascular disease among women is understudied, under-recognised, underdiagnosed, and undertreated globally.”*

In Aotearoa, the bleak reality is that heart health inequities experienced by women are even more significant for Māori and Pacific women. It is shameful that we are in this position at the start of the 21st century.  Our research programme aims to restore the balance by authentically engaging with communities in co-design cycles to work together towards heart health equity in Aotearoa. 

“Our overall goal is, to amplify the mana wāhine voice and change the way that heart health research is conducted in Aotearoa/New Zealand.”