Michael Baker

Michael is a public health physician and professor at the University of Otago, Wellington. He is a Co-Director of He Kāinga Oranga - Housing and Health Research Programme, and Principal Investigator for the Social Housing Outcomes Worth (SHOW) study which is tracking the health of social housing tenants in New Zealand. He is also involved with the Centre for Sustainable Cities at the University of Otago, Wellington.

Michael's research interests include the health effects of household crowding; home injuries; homelessness; seasonality of disease; climate change; pandemic influenza and how it can be contained; infectious disease epidemiology, and emerging infectious diseases. His work since 2020 has been dominated by assisting with the Covid-19 pandemic response as a member of the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 Technical Advisory Group, and he was a leading architect and advocate for the Covid-19 elimination strategy.

Michael’s work in public health, and for the Covid-19 response in particular, was recognised by awards including: the Health Research Council’s Liley Medal in 2013; the Critic and Conscience of Society Award (from Universities NZ); the Public Health Champion award (from the Public Health Association of NZ); Member of the NZ Order of Merit (MNZM); 2020 Wellingtonian of the Year, and the Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize in 2021.

Key publications

  1. Zhang, J. Leung, W. Jack, S. Oliver, J. Webb, R. Wilson, N Sika-Paotonu, D. Harwood, M.
    Rising ethnic inequalities in acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease, New Zealand, 2000-2018.
    Emerging Infectious Diseases,
    27(1), 36-46. doi: 10.3201/eid2701.191791
  2. Thomas, S. Jack, S. Oliver, J. Purdie, G. Upton, A.
    Descriptive analysis of group A Streptococcus in skin swabs and acute rheumatic fever, Auckland, New Zealand, 2010–2016.
    Lancet Regional Health: Western Pacific,
    8, 100101.
  3. Robertson, O. Atatoa-Carr, P.
    Changes in area deprivation by moves for New Zealand children.
    Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health,
  4. Oliver, J. Foster, T. Williamson, D.A.
    Using preceding hospital admissions to identify children at risk of developing acute rheumatic fever.
    Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health,
    54(5), 499-505.
  5. Oliver, J. Foster, T. Kvalsvig, A. Williamson, D.A.
    Risk of rehospitalisation and death for vulnerable New Zealand children.
    BMJ, Archives of Disease in Childhood,
  6. Zhang, J. Verrall, A. Lanumata, T.
    Close-contact infectious diseases in New Zealand: Trends and ethnic inequalities in hospitalisations,1989 to 2008 - 2nd Edition
    He Kāinga Oranga/Housing & Health Research Programme University of Otago, Wellington.

    Our key researchers: -->

  7. (2008).
    Excess winter morbidity and mortality: still a lack of evidence that housing or socio-economic status makes much difference.
    Reviews on Environmental Health,
    23(3), 203-221.
  8. Das, D. Venugopal, K.
    Tuberculosis associated with household crowding in developed country.
    Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health,
  9. Matheson, A. Cunningham, M. Blakely, T. O’Dea, D. Woodward, A. Saville-Smith, A. Waipara, N.
    Retrofitting houses with insulation to reduce health inequalities: Aims and methods of a clustered, randomised community-based trial
    Social Science and Medicine,
    61(12, 2600-2610.