Dr Ofa Dewes



Dr Ofa Dewes is an Affiliate Investigator with the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery, The University of Auckland.  She is interested in ethnic-specific research and evaluation studies among Pacific population groups across the life-span especially in the areas of people development, type 2 diabetes and obesity, ageing,  and activating communities for better health and education outcomes.

Ofa was born and raised in Suva, Fiji, and is part-Rotuman, Tongan and Tuvaluan, with affiliation to Ngati Porou.

Research | Current

Diabetes, Obesity & the Church (DOC): Implementing the NZ Weight Management Guidelines for Pacific children, young people and adults. Fanau FAB: Parent-led weight management programme for Pacific children targeting food, activity, and behaviour support. SWITCH: Screen-time weight-loss intervention targeting children at home. Kete Moui o Tamaki: Partnerships in innovative primary health care practice to improve health outcomes for young Pacific peoples. Research grants: 2012. Dewes O, Elley CR. Kete Moui o Tamaki funded by Ministry of Health Pacific Health Branch. $82,011. 2012. Dewes O. Networking grant for Diabetes, Obesity and the Church (DOC) funded by Health Research Council of NZ. $5,000. 2012-13. Arroll B, Dalbeth N, Dewes O. Gout Study funded by Ministry of Health Pacific Health Branch. $86,548. 2013-14. Dewes O, Swinburn B, Mann J, Coppell K, Scragg R, Kaholokula K, Percival T. DOC: Implementing the NZ Weight Management Guidelines in Pacific community funded by Health Research Council of NZ and Ministry of Health. $594,434. Other forms of dissemination: Contributed to the Clinical Guidelines for Weight Management in New Zealand Children, Young People and Adults. Media reports in relation to published papers, conference presentations and current research. Oral and poster presentations at national and international conferences.

Postgraduate supervision

2012-13 Summer Studentships:

  • Cultural Perspectives on hearing and hearing aids among Maori and Pacific in NZ.
  • Nutritional issues among pregnant Pacific women in NZ.

2009-10 Summer Studentships:

  • Active lifestyle intervention to improve the health of Tamaki community.
  • Walk the talk: Active transport issues faced by Pacific people living in Tamaki.

2011-12 Master's Thesis:

  • Hearing loss in the Fijian population: A pilot study.



  • Lead research design, development and implementation of DOC project.
  • Provide operational management and leadership for Fanau project from start-up to close-out.
  • Develop and implement Fanau intervention programme.
  • Analyse study results and disseminate study findings.
  • Develop and lead Pacific health research and evaluation projects.
  • Assist with Pacific Column in Journal of Primary Health Care - Vaikoloa.
  • Review draft manuscripts and grant applications for publication in Scientific Journals and for consideration by funders.
  • Lead Programme of Research on Pacific Peoples (PROP).


Areas of expertise

  • Diabetes and Obesity Prevention
  • Weight Management
  • Pacific health research leadership, methodology and evaluation
  • Health promotion and advocacy to develop Pacific health research infrastructure
  • Qualitative and Quantitative analysis methods


Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Pacific Medical Association
  • Fiji Nurses Association
  • Association of Social Anthropologists in Oceania
  • Whanau Ora Regional Leadership Group - Tamaki Makaurau
  • Journal of Primary Health Care - Editorial Board
  • Pacific Senior Managers Leadership Development Programme 2010-11 (sponsored by Ministry of Health Pacific Health Branch)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Rigamoto, M., Lima, I., Field, A., & Dewes, O. (2013). Responding to cellulitis in Pacific communities. J Prim Health Care, 5 (4), 336-337.
  • Dewes, O., Scragg, R., & Raina Elley, C. (2013). The association between church attendance and obesity-related lifestyle behaviours among New Zealand adolescents from different Pacific Island ethnic groups. Journal of Primary Health Care, 5 (4), 290-300. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/21478
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Robert Scragg, Raina Elley
  • Dewes, O. (2012). Hearing loss among Pacific peoples. J Prim Health Care, 4 (3), 250-251.
  • Sanders, M. P., Houghton, N., Dewes, O., McCool, J., & Thorne, P. (2012). Estimates of the Prevalence of Hearing Loss and Summary of Hearing Services in the Pacific. Paper presented at Pacific Islands Health Research Symposium, Nadi, Fiji. 6 September - 7 September 2012.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Judith McCool, Peter Thorne
  • Biddle, M. G., Vincent, G., McCambridge, A., Britton, G., Dewes, O., Elley, C. R., ... Edge, J. (2011). Randomised controlled trial of informal team sports for cardiorespiratory fitness and health benefit in Pacific adults. J Prim Health Care, 3 (4), 269-277.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Raina Elley, Simon Moyes
  • Utter, J., Scragg, R., Robinson, E., Warbrick, J., Faeamani, G., Foroughian, S., ... Swinburn, B. A. (2011). Evaluation of the Living 4 Life project: a youth-led, school-based obesity prevention study. Obes Rev, 12 Suppl 2, 51-60. 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00905.x
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/25471
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Robert Scragg, Boyd Swinburn
  • McCabe, M. P., Fotu, K., & Dewes, O. (2011). Body image, weight loss and muscle building among Tongan adolescents in Tonga and New Zealand. Journal of Health Psychology, 16 (7), 1101-1108. 10.1177/1359105311400226
  • Maddison, R., Mhurchu, C. N., Foley, L., Epstein, L., Jiang, Y., Tsai, M., ... Heke, I. (2011). Screen-time weight-loss intervention targeting children at home (SWITCH): a randomized controlled trial study protocol. BMC Public Health, 1110.1186/1471-2458-11-524
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Cliona Ni Mhurchu, Yannan Jiang, Ralph Maddison

Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 505 - Bldg 505
Level 2, Room 214
New Zealand