New Massey University research shows Maori directors in District Health Boards are overburdened by being the sole advocate for Maori health.
PhD graduate Joy Panoho interviewed 18 Maori directors at seven DHBs around the country for her doctoral thesis.
She says her study showed an enormous gap in Maori expertise on boards.
Dr Panoho says many directors have to spend a lot of time educating non-Maori directors about the problems faced by Maori, which interferes with their other work.
She says some feel like walking Treaty workshops.
Dr Panoho believes there needs to be a more prominent acknowledgement of the role that colonisation has had on Maori health and its disparity with that of Pakeha.
She says it's in everyone's interest to improve Maori health, and non-Maori directors need to make an effort to understand underlying problems.