Dr Makarena Dudley (Te Rarawa, Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Kahu), Principal Investigator at Brain Research New Zealand and Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland, has been elected as the 2020 Alzheimers New Zealand Fellow.
The Fellowship was established in 2019 to further research on dementia and its impact on individuals, whānau, communities, the health system, economy and society in New Zealand.
Alzheimers New Zealand Chief Executive Catherine Hall said the Fellowship recognises the significant contribution Dr Dudley has made through her invaluable research. “Dr Dudley’s research is making a tangible difference and is having a direct impact on the Māori community, and the benefits of that can’t be overstated,” Ms Hall says.
Makarena has been researching mate wareware (dementia) in Māori since 2015, focusing on the development of a theory of dementia from a Māori worldview, a dementia screening tool specifically for Māori, and an app for dementia awareness and prevention (ADAPT-R).
With her research Makarena has started to close a wide gap – the lack of dementia research done specifically for Māori. “I think the fact that Alzheimers New Zealand awarded this Fellowship to me highlights the need for more work to be done in this area,” Makarena says. “It acknowledges that Māori have specific needs when it comes to mate wareware.”
Makarena says it was thrilling to hear that she had been awarded the Fellowship: “It had quite a profound effect on me. I have been beavering away at my research hoping that it makes a difference, so to be acknowledged by Alzheimers New Zealand is indeed an endorsement of the work my team and I have been doing. I feel very honoured and it has incentivised me to work even harder for this important kaupapa.”
As one of only four Māori neuropsychologists in the country, Makarena hopes that the Fellowship will help raise awareness of her path and role within the research and healthcare sector, and to help develop workforce capacity within the Māori world.
The award will allow Makarena to supplement some ongoing projects, such as the ADAPT-R app, or to invest in professional development, such as a course on Cognitive Stimulation Therapy.
Prof Peter Thorne, Co-Director at Brain Research New Zealand, comments: “We are thrilled that Makarena has been awarded the Alzheimers New Zealand Fellowship. This recognises the enormous contribution Makarena is making to understanding the impact of dementia on our communities and especially Māori communities. Brain Research New Zealand is very proud of her achievements – ka mau te wehi, Makarena!”