2.0 Introduction

This section provides important background information about this research, including why it was completed, what we wanted to find out and how we did it.

2.1 Background – Why was the research done? 

Child obesity represents a significant health issue in New Zealand today, particularly amongst Māori and Pacific families. 

The OAG is conducting a performance audit on child obesity, to see how effective the public service is in its efforts to prevent and reduce child obesity in New Zealand.

To help inform the audit, we conducted a series of focus groups with Māori and Pasifika parents to get their perspective (as potential end users) on the provision of obesity-related services. 

2.1.1 Research objectives – What did we want to know?

The research sought to answer the following questions:

  • To what extent do Māori and Pasifika parents see child obesity as an important issue in their homes and their community in general? 
  • To what extent are Māori and Pasifika parents aware of the range of support and services that are available to improve health issues related to child obesity?
  • What if any barriers exist that are inhibiting access to these types of services and support programmes?
  • Where programmes and services have been accessed, how satisfied are participants with the standard of service and the facilities provided?

2.2 Methodology – What did we do?

Following an initial planning meeting with OAG, an interview guide was developed that listed each of the relevant topic areas that we wanted to explore relating to child obesity. Interview guides are not questionnaires as such, but a list or schedule of areas of relevant questioning which are used by Researchers to moderate focus group discussions. A copy of the interview guide used in this research can be found in Appendix A.

Following the development of the interview guide, we conducted four focus groups, interviewing a total of 31 Māori and Pasifika parents from Counties Manukau, Waitemata and Orakei, Auckland. The group discussions were completed between the 25th and 28th of February, 2013. All participants were recruited on the basis that they were parents or guardians of children aged 5-14 years of age.

The first focus group was held in Waipareira, with Māori parents from the wider Waitemata DHB area. The second group was with Māori parents from Orakei. 

Both of the two focus groups with Pasifika parents (and grandparents) were held in Otara, South Auckland. They included people from Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tonga and Tahiti. Participants from the first Pasifika group were all Island-born, having moved to New Zealand in their late teens or as adults. The other group consisted of Pasifika people who were born in New Zealand. This distinction was made so we could see if there were any differences in their views about child-obesity and their understanding of the goodness and nutritional value of particular foods. 

The focus groups took around one and half hours each to complete. Light refreshments were provided and each participant was given a koha of $60 in appreciation of their time and to cover their transport costs. None of the participants knew what the topic of the discussion was going to be, prior to attending.

Participants were recruited with the assistance of Māori and Pasifika community-based organisations. The Researchers who hosted the focus groups were themselves of Māori and Pasifika descent. The focus group with Māori parents was also co-hosted by our Māori research partner, from T&T Consulting.

2.2.1 Constraints and limitations

The exploratory nature of the research and the type of information required, meant that the qualitative face to face approach used, was the most appropriate.

However, due to the number of interviews completed, qualitative research cannot be regarded as representative of the population from which the participants were drawn.