Tūhauora Kawakawa

Public Summary

Principal Investigators: Dr Chris Pook, Liggins Institute, The University of Auckland
Industry partners: Riddet Institute, Human Nutrition Unit, Chia Sisters and AuOra of Wakatū Incorporation
High-Value Nutrition funding: $1,297,299

Tūhauora: a functional beverage containing kawakawa

AuOra and Chia Sisters have received funding from High-Value Nutrition Ko Ngā Kai Whai Painga for a three-part project. The focus is on kawakawa, a taonga species traditionally used as rongoā (traditional Māori medicine) for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and metabolic effects.

Part One: Led by the Riddet Institute, the manufacture of a dried kawakawa ingredient and functional food products will be explored.

Part Two: With research capabilities provided by the live-in Human Nutrition Unit, an intervention study will look at the effect of kawakawa on resting metabolic rate and utilisation of nutrients.

Part Three: The Liggins Institute will conduct a second human trial with kawakawa to quantify its effects on biomarkers of chronic inflammation, metabolic health and immune health.

AuOra is well regarded for its leadership role in pivoting New Zealand’s Primary Industries towards new high-value creation from bioactive ingredients and functional food for health solutions. Their work, in tandem with Chia Sisters, provides a fourfold opportunity to explore the bio-discovery value of kawakawa in ways that uphold tikanga, to extend and evolve the mātauranga continuum, to grow the Aotearoa New Zealand economy, and to contribute to the availability of dietary tools for the prevention of chronic disease.

High-Value Nutrition Ko Ngā Kai Whai Painga is one of the eleven National Science Challenges.


Research Team

Dr Chris Pook

Chris is a Research Fellow at the University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute. His research focuses on the application of advanced analytical techniques, particularly chromatography and mass spectrometry, to questions of metabolism, physiology, chemical ecology and biochemistry. His particular focus is chemical ecology: the study of how chemical compounds mediate interactions between organisms and their environment.

Chloe Van Dyke

Chloe is the founder of Chia Sisters, an internationally successful beverage company with a focus on health, innovation, and sustainability. She has a degree in Neuroscience, and a diploma in herbal medicine which includes the indigenous uses of Chinese, ayurvedic, western, and rongoā Māori plants for medicinal use. She has a particular interest in enhancing the scientific knowledge of our indigenous plant species and how they can be protected for use in export markets. Chloe runs her business in a way that prioritises the wellbeing of the environment and the communities in which it operates. The company is solar powered, zero carbon, climate positive, living wage, and B-Corp certified, and is the founding business of Businesses for Climate Action. Chloe is an Edmund Hillary Fellow, Obama leader, and Asia New Zealand Foundation leader.

Miriana Stephens

Miriana Stephens hails from Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Rārua. She is a director at Wakatū Incorporation and Kono, a Nelson-based Māori venture with an asset base of over $300 million.

Miriana is a lawyer, a director and a businesswoman who believes that Māori businesses can lead the way.

She believes that businesses entering into purposeful partnerships that share risk and rewards must deploy agile methodologies to update their products and services and with greater investment in innovation, science and technology.