Lifecourse research examines people’s trajectories through life and factors that influence those trajectories. It has the potential to build an evidence base around programmes that are effective for Māori. This paper describes the development and initial stages of Te Kura Mai i Tawhiti (TKMT), an innovative long-term research programme run as a collaboration between Taranaki Māori community organisation Te Pou Tiringa and the University of Otago’s National Centre for Lifecourse Research. The research aim is to examine the transformative power that quality Kaupapa Mäori early life and whänau programmes have on whānau health, wellbeing and educational outcomes. Theoretically and methodologically, TKMT research is at the interface of Māori and Western-science paradigms. This paper provides an overview of how we are gathering evidence as to what constitutes effective early years programming in order to improve outcomes later in life for Mäori. It also outlines key elements that have made this research partnership successful.