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Local knowledge of DOHaD in New Zealand

Thu, August 30, 11:00am to 12:30pm, ICC, E3.4


New Zealand has played a significant role in the history of DOHaD, a field built around the notion that influences received during early life shape the long-term health, in particular the risk (chronic) disease of the individual and, through behaviour and epigenetic modifications, its descendants. Namely, New Zealand researchers were among the founders of the field in the early 1990s; a thriving research institution (Liggins Institute) built around the idea of DOHaD was founded in 2001 in Auckland; and New Zealand scientists played a key role in the establishment of DOHaD in Singapore and China. The same period has seen an increased interest in the knowledge of the New Zealand indigenous people, Māori, and the ways in which this knowledge can be brought to bear upon institutions and practices: for example within law and public health. Yet while DOHaD has often been invoked as a field crucial to improving the lives of Māori, seen to suffer disproportionately from the poor early life conditions as well as historical trauma, there have been no attempts to bring Māori concepts into the field. This paper looks at the history of DOHaD in New Zealand, explanations for its success and its intersections with the Māori and Māori knowledge. It interrogates how indigenous (Māori) knowledge may come together with the DOHaD paradigm; whether it is practically possible in a way that does not perpetuate colonization, and how (local) DOHaD might change should such an exchange take place.