The prevalence of dementia among Māori is unknown but ground-breaking research that's about to begin should fill that void.

A leading dementia expert from the UK, Professor Martin Prince, will spend the next 5 - 10 years leading the research.

Dr Makarena Dudley of Te Rarawa says the study is the first of its kind in New Zealand, research into dementia.

“At the moment there has not been any significant research done in this area so given that it is an area of Māori health that is growing and becoming more of a problem, it is an area that needs to be investigated.”

Professor Martin is leading the research training this week and he says dementia is a condition that affects people all around the world, in particular, those that live in low and middle-income countries.

“The inequities in the way which health care is accessed, the inequities in which health care is delivered that doesn't mean the same thing for everyone but it means making special attempts to ensure that health care, social care is delivered in a way that is sensitive to the cultural needs of the local population.”

Dr Dudley believes there is currently 2000 Māori elderly with dementia, however, the actual results will be revealed in the research.

“We are predicting in the year 2026 given that we have an aging population that there are probably going to be 5000 kaumātua suffering from dementia but we think that is a conservative number there may be a lot more because a lot of our kaumātua do not present to medical services and primary health care for this condition.”

In five years' time, the research for dementia amongst Māori and five other ethnic groups will be known.