Dr Grace Hinepua Walker BA, BSc (First Class), MSc (Distinction), PhD is a data scientist focusing on changing Indigenous narratives by producing data for Indigenous and minority groups as well as commercialising affordable diabetes management devices.
In 2021, Grace received her PhD in Psychology at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha, the University of Canterbury, for examining the association between ethnicity, parenthood, and subsequent life outcomes. She found the biggest contributors to the well-being of parents were relationship stability, financial security, and social support. Therefore, those are the areas where interventions should be targeted to support.
Grace was aware that gaining a PhD would not be an easy task, but her passion and drive to change the way in which Māori and indigenous people are represented in research gave her the determination to endure. With the support of mentors and the MAI postgrad network, Grace created a strong social and academic support network that she remains close to post-studying.
She continues to mentor students within the MAI postgrad network and contribute to research focusing on building up the future Māori workforce within Aotearoa. As a Māori researcher, academic and data scientist, she stays focused, knowing that she is contributing to new research and approaches that are useful for Māori.
Grace's post-doctorate work focuses on using data to reflect the lived realities of Māori communities and how Māori communities can use publicly available data. She also leads the community engagement for THE LEAPS project, focusing on a kaupapa Māori approach to designing and commercialising affordable diabetes management devices. Throughout all of her mahi, there is a strong focus on housing and health equity for the betterment of Māori and indigenous groups.
In 2019, Grace set up Think Analytic Ltd, a private research consultancy specialising in longitudinal data analysis and survey design for community-based projects. She has since worked full-time as the director. Within her organisation, she contributes to multiple national science challenges, including Building Better Homes Towns and Cities, Our Land and Water, and Science for Technology and Innovation. Within these projects, she provides a kaupapa Māori lens that focuses on reflecting community lived experiences within research.
As a data scientist, Grace says statistics are often used without consideration of the historical context or policy implications, which has led to Māori being stigmatised or marginalised. As an early career researcher, she is passionate about using statistics to benefit communities and groups she works with. "I like my mixed methods research because numbers are good to quantify a need or estimate an event occurring, but they mean very little on their own. The qualitative aspect of research gives those numbers story and meaning."