PIF Study Key Achievements

  • Successful retention of over 1000 primary participants at the completion of the 11 year data collection phase . This is up to the best international standards for longitudinal studies and well exceeds expectations and achievements for a minority population.
  • Construction of a unique and robust international data set on Pacific children and their families resulting in national and international invitations to present on the development and maintenance of longitudinal studies.
  • Publication to date of more than 90 peer reviewed scientific papers in national and international journals marking a cascade of scientific deliverables flowing from the ground breaking study.
  • Production, distribution and collaboration in providing novel user friendly oral, written, film and electronic information to a diverse variety of stakeholders.


Foundation of Research Science and Technology (FRST) for 2008 - 2013

The Foundation for Research Science and Technology has provided (from July 2008) a new five -year contact for continued funding of the PIF Study. This follows the earlier six year contract which supported the completion of the data collection, analysis and reporting for both the "First Two Years of Life" study and the "Transition to School" study. These studies followed the development of the children from birth through the early school years and set the stage for examining later successful learning and optimal development.
The new contract for the Pacific Islands Families Study: Towards Adolescence (PIF: TA) study builds on the strong foundations of the PIF cohort established in the year 2000 by examining socio-cultural, community, school, and family influences on Pacific children during the critical pre-pubertal stage of child development at ages 9 and 11 years. This contract gives us the opportunity to uniquely leverage off the extensive dataset collected in previous phases to identify the factors that contribute to successful participation of pre-adolescent children in school and family life. Effective utilisation of this dataset will drive decision making at local, national and international levels and arm agencies and policy-makers with new knowledge about Pacific children growing up in NZ and thereby enrich our society and its future citizens.



In New Zealand many more Pacific children fail the school entry hearing screen and experience greater levels of middle ear disease and hearing difficulties than other ethnic groups. However, this disproportionate burden and the long-term impact of Pacific children's hearing difficulties on their health and scholastic achievements is largely unknown. The proposed research will investigate middle ear status, hearing sensitivity and auditory processing in 11 year-old Pacific children. Prevalence estimates will be determined and linked to current and past demographic, social and environmental factors and learning, behavioural and health outcomes. Health Research Council funded PIF to utilise the existing cohort study measured over multiple waves to assess children's hearing using established diagnostic audiological standards and relate outcomes to longitudinally collected standardised measures.Results will inform evidence-based interventions and policies aimed at reducing health inequalities. Participants with hearing impairments will be offered specialist treatment.

Oral Health

There is very little specific oral health research relevant to New Zealand children in middle childhood, particularly for Pacific children. Given the importance of oral health, and Pacific child health in terms of the national health strategy as acknowledged in the priority areas outlined for the Ministry of Health Oral Health Research Fund it is critical that comprehensive information relating to Pacific children's oral health status is made available to policy makers, professional and other stakeholders in the wider community. The Dental Research Foundation and Ministry of Health funded the PIF team to carry out a pilot (n=50) to field test the logistics and viability of undertaking a full oral health investigation of the Pacific Island Family (PIF) study cohort a later measurement point.  

Nutrition and Body Size Studies

A nutrition and body size study of the PIF child cohort was undertaken when the children were 4 years of age and was funded by the Child Health Research Foundation. In 2006, the Health Research Council of New Zealand funded a follow up study of nutrition, body size and physical activity when the children were six years of age. A new contract was awarded to continue this field of study for the nine year phase that will commence in 2009. The overall aim of these studies is to identify, through longitudinal analyses, the factors that influence these indicators of child obesity, and to examine the stability and change of child body composition, nutrition and physical activity variables over the life course. Information obtained will be used to develop and test predictive models that incorporate hypothesised risk and protective factors of child obesity and general health.  

Effects of Traffic Related Air Pollution

PIF research staff are collaborating with Dr Jane Clougherty of Harvard University in the United States on a feasibility study to investigate the contribution of traffic –related air pollution and environmental and community factors to the health and development of children enrolled since birth in the study. This study uses spatial modelling methods and GIS based land use regression and interpolation (spatial smoothing techniques) to estimate exposure patterns.   

Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust

This Trust has provided funding for a specific Pacific Islands families meeting and assessment centre in Otahuhu, Auckland which was used as data collection points across the previous studies: PIF First Two Years and PIF Transition to School Studies.  

Nature, Prevalence and Treatment of Otitis Media

The Deafness Research Foundation funded investigation of the nature, prevalence and treatment of Otitis Media (glue ear) in the cohort children at 24-months is completed. This was run in conjunction with clinical staff of the Manukau Super Clinic and focused on the benefits of screening and treatment of OME at an early age. Given the acknowledged importance of hearing in learning and healthy development there is opportunity for the study cohort to both individually benefit and help in the development of new knowledge potentially useful for all Pacific children. The Deafness Research Foundation provided some of the funds necessary to support this project.