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Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

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Levi (l) and Dana (r) Armstrong with their children Jagger, Paige, Jordyn, Pania (from left to right).

The COVID-19 epidemic has added a new dimension to Levi and Dana Armstrong’s work.

Of Ngāti Kahungunu descent, both Levi and Dana are currently studying towards a Master of Health Science. Levi is the co-founder of Patu Aotearoa with gyms nationwide. Levi completed a Bachelor of Recreation and Sport at EIT while Dana gained a Bachelor in Education, majoring in Physical Education and Health and a Diploma in Teaching (Conjoint) from Massey University.

For over five years, the Armstrongs have worked alongside a team of researchers at EIT to develop the Meke Meter The Meke Meter is an indigenous quality of life self-assessment tool. By asking people to think about their current physical, mental and social wellbeing, Levi and Dana are hoping to gain good insight into the country’s wellbeing. Through completing the Meke Meter regularly people can track any changes to their wellbeing. This empowers individuals to set goals and make positive changes to improve their quality of life.

Recently the Meke Meter has gone online and the Armstrongs are currently in the data collection phase for their Masters. “While COVID-19 has made its presence felt in Aotearoa we thought it would be a great opportunity to understand the impact that COVID-19 is having on the health and wellness of New Zealanders. We have looked at other studies including the Christchurch Earthquakes and the Financial Crisis and how wellness was measured,” says Levi.

Master of Health Sciences Programme Coordinator Patrick Lander highlights the partnership dimension. “Dana and Levi are looking to validate the Meke Meter from two different perspectives which I think is powerful. They have worked together on the concept over the years, but in this situation where so many of us are juggling parenting, work and/or study, the themes of partnership and working on wellbeing together come through strongly for me.”

Academic supervisor, Rachel Forrest from EIT’s School of Nursing stresses, “As Masters students, they are able to take ownership of the Meke Meter research which is relevant to Māori both locally and nationally as well being of benefit to all New Zealanders. EIT encouraged this approach as it aligns well with Kaupapa Māori. EIT is committed to working alongside and supporting research within local communities.”

Levi and Dana are both very grateful to have been given the opportunity to do a Masters and to further their project. Dana, who has been teaching at Tamatea High School since 2010 sees a huge potential for the Meke Meter, once validated to inform teaching pedagogy. “EIT has been a big part of our life and we are super stoked to be able to study together,” says Levi.