About us

Foundational Principles

Climate Health Aotearoa (CHA) is a multi-institutional national research organisation. Our research has a broad scope including the health impacts of climate change, health-related climate change adaptation and mitigation, and the health co-benefits of climate action. Membership includes researchers in Aotearoa who are doing climate change and health research: over 50 members from a range of organisations and communities, including a 25-member Tangata Whenua caucus and a lively postgraduate research student group. Our members have extensive networks and strong relationships with communities, government and policy makers. Administratively, the centre is based in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine at the University of Otago.

Founded on Te Tiriti co-leadership and co-governance principles, CHA was developed with a tripartite structure consisting of rangatiratanga, tangata tiriti, and relational spheres (reflecting one of the proposals in Matike Mai Aotearoa). N.B. the Matike Mai report references a kāwanatanga sphere rather than a tangata tiriti sphere, but we believe the term ‘tangata tiriti’ is more appropriate for the purposes of CHA. The rangatiratanga sphere is given effect through the Tangata Whenua caucus, a rōpū of Māori academics and researchers who provide leadership on Māori values, worldviews, knowledges and aspirations with respect to climate change and health.

Rangatiratanga Sphere

Relational Sphere

Tangata Tiriti Sphere

Our work in this space is underpinned by a number of values and guiding principles:

  • accountability to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and He Whakaputanga
  • a commitment to equity (including intergenerational equity), and an acknowledgment of privilege
  • an acknowledgment that health, equity, and environmental sustainability are intertwined
  • recognition of climate change as a symptom of underlying systems and processes including colonisation and the dominant global economic model

In addition, we are guided by other values referenced in Matike Mai including values of tikanga, community and balance. The centrality of community (hapori/hapū/whānau) requires a focus on community-led research and/or community development/transformation, in addition to policy or governance-oriented research objectives. Research themes in the centre are multi-scalar, operating on multiple levels

This is reflected in a desire to generate research that is appropriately contextualised, collaborative, participatory, and inclusive. This includes a focus on ‘ecologies of knowledge’, which means that our research recognises and draws on diverse knowledge systems and ways of knowing.

The development of international research arising from the rōpū will be consistent with international human rights conventions such as UNDRIP and give special consideration to Pacific peoples as whanaunga, as recognised in the Matike Mai document.  Furthermore, Pacific peoples have a particular place in relation to New Zealand law, society, economy and culture, as a Pacific nation, and Pacific countries are on the frontline of climate impacts on health.