Dr David Tipene-Leach (Ngāti Kere, Ngāti Manuhiri) is Professor of Māori and Indigenous Research at Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) and a Fellow of the The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners. He is a champion for health equity and speaks widely about racism and unconscious bias in the health system. “One of the most important things GPs need to do is be social change advocates,” says Dr Tipene-Leach.
“We all bring biases to a situation and those aren’t just about ethnicity. Let’s use the language of bias to explain racism and discrimination in an inclusive and non-blaming manner to facilitate change in our behaviour,” he says.
Dr Tipene-Leach is known for his innovative and life-changing work in Māori health, including developing and championing the use of wahakura, a woven flax bassinet (and the plastic Pepi-Pod) that allows parents to share a bed safely with their newborns.
The Ministry of Health announced in 2017 that the infant safe sleep programme would run the wahakura project nationwide. In 2018 Dr Tipene-Leach was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori and health.
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