A Maori neuro-psychologist at AUT University says she wants to educate her colleagues about cultural awareness when they deal with Maori patients.
Margaret Dudley of Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri and Ngati Kahu is about to start a three year research project to improve rehabilitation outcomes for Maori patients following a stroke or head injury.
She says one of the things that she wants to achieve is to reduce the huge disparity between recoveries in Maori and Pakeha patients with brain damage.
Dr Dudley says for too long there has been no consideration for Maori cultural and spiritual needs which is impeding their improvement.
She says the rehabilitation treatment programmes have been based on a very western world view, and many of the concepts important to Maori such as the head being tapu or sacred, and how their whanau can play a part in helping them to heal have been ignored.
Dr Dudley says this is one of the reasons why Maori rehabilitation outcomes aren't good as the rest of the New Zealand population.