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Aotearoa Somatic Practice, Chronic Pain and Design Network

Project team

Dr. Emma Meehan (Co-Investigator)

University of Auckland

  •  Dr Rebecca Weber (Principal Investigator)
  • Carla Sartori do Amaral (Co-Investigator)
  • Tia Reihana (Co-Investigator)
  • Cathy Livermore (Research Assistant)
  • Katherine Mandolidis (Network Administrator)

Edge Hill University

Bernie Carter (Co-Investigator)


Health Research Council of New Zealand

Value to Coventry University

 $4,000.00 (NZ dollars)

Total value of project

$30,000 (NZ dollars)


  • University of Auckland (lead)
  • Edge Hill University

Duration of project

12 months (01.10.2020 – 1.11.2021)

Project overview

1 in 5 New Zealanders lives with chronic pain, and as ‘a major health issue in New Zealand’ (Dominick et al 2011), its prevalence is rising (Swain et al 2018). Despite its pervasiveness, there remain insufficient resources in Aotearoa for chronic pain treatment, and New Zealand lacks access to pain specialists in comparison with other countries. Māori suffer a greater burden of chronic pain than the general population (Lewis & Upsdell 2018; Moore & Davies 2018), but access pain healthcare less (Burri et al 2018). Also, indigenous communities may have different perspectives of chronic pain (Magnusson & Fennell 2011a, 2011b), and may not isolate physical chronic pain from spiritual, social, mental and emotional wellbeing (Mark & Lyons 2010, Durie 2004, Baker 2018).

This project will develop a network of Aotearoa experts in chronic pain from dance and somatic practices, kaupapa Māori methods, health and wellness/hauora, and design. Our aim is to understand how we can work across disciplines and approaches to support pain management. We want to facilitate conversations between network members and create connection and understanding through a series of kōrero, hui, and practice sharings. We will collect data using participatory approaches to grounded theory and kaupapa Māori methods. By developing a diverse team of experts, we hope to identify ways of integrating Māori and somatic practice approaches in supporting chronic pain care for future research.

This project will build on the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded network ‘Somatic practice, chronic pain and self-care technology’ led by Meehan and Carter that has examined the role of dance and somatic practiced in supporting chronic pain management. The Aotearoa Somatic Practice, Chronic Pain, and Design Network will uniquely focus on the Aotearoa / New Zealand context and Māori perspectives on somatic practice and pain management.

Project objectives

Establishing the network: This grant will support relationship development through network building between those working in chronic pain management and people with pain.

Exchange Workshops: There will be an exchange of
practice and facilitation of trans-disciplinary dialogue and resource sharing through 3 two-day workshops led by a range of network members.

Literature review: A literature review and priority setting for future research will also be undertaken.

Design and report: The network will identify areas for future research and testing such as areas for design intervention to develop technologies, to offer somatics-informed trainings, or to connect with specific indigenous communities.

Impact statement

This project will contribute to transdisciplinary and transcultural understanding and approaches toward pain management. It will also interrogate accessibility issues and limitations for Māori that may lead to other avenues for health delivery research. Further, it will support developing local relationships, build knowledge on chronic pain management and define self-care strategies in Aotearoa. By doing so, we will build capacity for the next step, which will be to respond to the priorities set for multidisciplinary approaches to pain management. This proposal focuses on discovering opportunities (exploratory, divergent research) and defining specific needs (narrowing down, convergent research). Future research will move towards the development and delivery of healthcare approaches engaging all communities and stakeholders (e.g. healthcare workers, carers, people living with pain) involved in this research on chronic pain.


  • Workshops
  • Literature review
  • Report on findings
  • Network website

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