Action Research can be a powerful tool for change and improvement in health services for indigenous people when utilised within an appropriate framework. The project Maori Utilisation & Experience of Ischaemic Heart Disease Management illustrates this convergence in its use of Kaupapa Maori Action Research methods in its efforts to improve the health and well-being of Maori within the northern region of Aotearoa/New Zealand. We outline the research processes and outcomes obtained through the application of 'by Maori for Maori' approaches to understanding Maori pathways and barriers to care for ischaemic heart disease. Maori understandings of their illness and experiences of treatment, and healthcare providers' perspectives on care of Maori with ischaemic heart disease, were combined into Maori-led actions to improve service provision. The paper examines critical factors in an action research approach to health service innovations and implications for efforts to reduce entrenched health disparities.