Dr Tess Moeke-Maxwell

Ngāi Tai, Ngāti Porou

PhD, B Soc Sci (With 1st Hons), MNZAC

Tess has dedicated her life to helping Māori, especially through the end of life research she does with Māori whānau. This is a sacred time when the spirit prepares to transition to the heavenly realm. Whānau, as caregivers, have an important role in caring for their dying, and helping the dying person’s wairua to transition ‘well’.

She believes that end of life and dying are important opportunities for us to release the past, forgive, be forgiven, and to love without conditions. Writing and speaking about these things from the perspectives of whānau are the greatest enjoyments of her academic career.

In the 1980s Tess worked voluntarily for Rape Crisis as a sexual abuse counsellor which led her to undertake degrees in psychology and gender studies at the University of Waikato. She has won numerous scholarships and grants to help her undertake her post graduate work and PhD. Māori ethnic diversity is another research passion and her PhD thesis is about Māori women’s bi/multi-racial post-colonial identity.

In the late 1990s Tess registered as an ACC sexual abuse clinician and researched in the areas of sexual violation and healing pathways, for one study of which she was the lead Māori researcher. Tess also served on the ACC Sensitive Claims Advisory Board from 2010-2017.

Her post-doctoral research was about Māori palliative care (Kia Ngawari study) and she continues to explore ways to improve Māori palliative care, particularly for kaumātua. Currently Tess is employed as a Research Fellow in the School of Nursing, University of Auckland, and she is a founding member of the Te Ārai Palliative Care and End of Life Research Group. Since 2011 Tess has sat on Hospice New Zealand’s (HNZ) governance boards.  She has also contributed to a revision of the HNZ Palliative Care Standards and regularly contributes to the HNZ Kaimahi Roopu conferences.

Recently Tess was awarded a grant from the Health Research Council (Rangahau Hauora Māori) to lead the Pae Herenga study, a three year end of life study on traditional Māori end of life care customs and contemporary adaptations.

Tess is a trustee of Umupuia Marae (Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki Makaurau), Maraetai, South Auckland. Tess and her partner are very involved with raising their mokopuna. Following her partner’s diagnosis with breast cancer Tess wrote Stars of Aroha Meditations, a book of guided meditations. This draws upon pūrākau, and several resources (MeditatioNZ App by Stars of Aroha; Luna’s Lullaby audio book and Stars of Aroha audio book1), to help people relax and find inner peace.

[1] http://starsofaroha.co.nz/

Current role:

Research Fellow, Principle Investigator, Pae Herenga Study, School of Nursing, University of Auckland


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