Dr Willy-John Martin

Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Tamaterā

Willy-John Martin is mātāmua to eight brothers and five sisters and uncle to a multitude of nieces and nephews. He warmly describes his kaupapa as doing science that prioritises Māori health.

Dr Martin is a biomedical science forerunner and our only Māori Cellular Immunologist. He has spent many days in the science laboratory thinking about a diverse range of immune mysteries while intently experimenting, interspersed with absent-minded tapping and clapping to the invisible band in his head.

Dr Martin has investigated the biological properties of rongoā Tuhoe, particularly as a treatment for inflammatory arthritis, at the Bioactivity Investigations Group at the University of Otago, Wellington. As the first Māori PhD at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, he elucidated cellular and molecular mechanisms underpinning gouty arthritis. Recently, Dr Martin undertook the first Indigenous health research project in the 100-year history of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) in Melbourne. At WEHI, he helped establish their first Indigenous Reconciliation Committee, helped to enshrine new cultural practices, and sought out new treatments and diagnostic leads for acute rheumatic fever. This condition impacts many tamariki and rangatahi across the Pacific.

On top of all this brilliance, Dr Martin loves to kanikani. He is a very accomplished salsa dancer and a fledgeling flamenco dancer. As a former Salsa teacher in Wellington, his passion for this art form inspired many Māori to take up salsa dancing and enjoy Latin music. Dr Martin is also a passionate vegetarian foodie, loves Indigenous foods, and is a connoisseur of one Indigenous food in particular - chocolate!


Profile By

Dr Melanie Cheung in 2017

He Rangatira Our Leaders

Dr Emerald Muriwai

Ngāti Ira, Ngai Tamahaua, Ngāti Patumoana, Te Whakatōhea, Airihi

DClinPsy, MSc Psychology

Emerald Muriwai is a Clinical Psychologist with a background in kaupapa Māori research, public health, indigenous psychology and sport psychology.

Gloria Sheridan

Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi, Whakatohea, Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ronogwhaata

Gloria Sheridan, first and foremost, is a Māori wāhine, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, and mokopuna with strong connections to Te Tairāwhiti. She is passionate about advocating equity and choice for Māori to counter the ideologies of the current Western medical system

Aroha Ruha-Hiraka

Ngāti Awa, Ngai Tūhoe, Te Arawa, Tūwharetoa

Growing up with Te Reo as her first language and through kōhanga reo and kura Kaupapa, Aroha believes health interventions are already within pūrākau and traditional Māori practices.

Wiremu Nia Nia

Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tūhoe

Wiremu Nia Nia is a tohunga and matekite known for his mahi wairua and knowledge of traditional healing practices.