Te Whaioranga (research, writing and website development for Pharmac)

Project dates: 
Feb-2009 to Jun-2009
Description of the project: 

Pharmac contracted CWA (for whom I was working) to build a bilingual website (called Te Whaioranga) – for their Māori engagement group.

My involvement: 

I was heavily involved in the development of Pharmac's 'Te Whaioranga' website, in the area of research and report writing. The purpose of the research was to collect objective views on what Māori whānau and health professionals wanted, in terms of an online health resource – thus avoiding any subjective design and development decisions when creating the site. As part of the research team, I conducted face-to-face interviews, phone interviews and a focus group hui.

In addition to the aforementioned primary sources of information, I helped to analyse (and summarise) a number of key research documents in the health sector, to facilitate access by lay people.

Key skills used: 

I used different research tools for the gathering of data, namely:

  • Face to face interviews with whānau (using a questionnaire) i.e. youth, parents, and elders.
  • Phone interviews with health professionals around New Zealand (as recommended to us by Pharmac staff) e.g. GPs, nurses, rongoā practitioner, DHBs, Māori health researchers/ ‘experts’.
  • A focus group with Pharmac’s Māori advisory Caucus.

I needed very good relationship skills, to facilitate successful collaboration between CWA, Pharmac and stakeholders eg to understand, and access, Pharmac’s key stakeholders.

Once the website was launched, I was contracted by Pharmac to attend a Māori men’s health conference (based on the kaupapa of ‘One Heart, Many Lives’),  to conduct one to one interviews with a rongoā practitioner and those struggling with obesity – so that their personal (and often poignant) stories could be published on the website.


The benefit of the research phase in the development of the site was that it removed the element of subjectivity (both client and service provider), meaning that decisions about what constituted a successful website were not based on ‘gut feelings’ or anecdotal reports. We were able to ensure Pharmac that we had canvassed other people’s views (including whānau, hapū and iwi) and integrated their views into our planning. The research helped us determine the right combination of technology to suit Pharmac’s needs – which allowed us to clearly define, and understand, the multiple audiences for the new site.

By doing the research, we were able to:

  • Provide clarity around what Pharmac was wanting to communicate to its Māori stakeholders;
  • Determine what core values, shared by Pharmac and its Māori stakeholders, would encourage Māori to engage with the site eg manaaki tangata; importance of whānau; holistic aspects of hauora; and
  •  Ensure that there was a ‘connect’ between  Pharmac’s online communications and what Māori people believe in.

The output from the research stage, which took approximately 70% of the project time, was a ‘road map’ document that outlined:

  • A comprehensive report on our findings (co-written by me and the instructional designer);
  • Information about the type of content needed (as per stakeholder input); and
  • A flow diagram showing the top level structure for the website.
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