Rangahau (Innovative Research)

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The Prime Minister’s Science Prize

Improving housing to improve health wins top New Zealand science prize

A 28-member team of scientists, including Cheryl Davies from the Tū Kotahi Maori Asthma Trust whose research over more than 15 years has involved thousands of New Zealanders, earned international acclaim and informed policy developments for successive New Zealand governments has won the 2014 Prime Minister’s Science Prize.

The $500,000 prize has been presented to the He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme, led by Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman from the University of Otago, who is the first woman research leader and the first social scientist to receive the prestigious award.

The team has worked nationwide to address long-standing quality deficiencies in housing, particularly as they affect vulnerable groups such as children, older people and those with chronic health conditions including asthma.

Through large scale community trials, involving around 10,000 New Zealanders, the team has tested, quantified and demonstrated the effectiveness of initiatives such as retrofitting insulation to modern standards, installing effective and non-polluting heating and remediating injury hazards in homes.


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