When Dr Karole Hogarth and Mereana Rapata-Hanning were asked to contribute a chapter on indigenous health in New Zealand for an Australasian Pathophysiology textbook, one of the challenges they faced was getting the Māori worldview and language accepted by the publishers. “Māori people identify as Māori, not as indigenous – it’s about giving integrity to the people we’re writing about,” says Mereana.
Their exploration focussed on defining the prevalence of contemporary Māori health, as well as acknowledging the wider social-political factors that determine these statistics. Their discussion of the high levels of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, cancer, asthma, skin diseases, smoking and alcohol abuse, and poor mental and oral health, identified that Māori health is still disparate to non-Māori. “We weren’t really surprised by this. Statistics for Māori reflect those of other indigenous peoples globally,” says Karole.
Both Karole and Mereana had been interested in this topic for a long time. As registered nurses they regularly saw the impact of chronic disease in Māori communities throughout Aotearoa. The discussion continues to highlight the inequality that Māori experience when engaging with health and disability services. They believe that addressing this inequality involves a multi-layer approach involving revisiting funding at government level, improving public education, and taking healthcare directly to the people in the community. Most importantly they cite the importance of individual actions and attitudes of health professionals: “What you do in terms of inclusiveness and engagement directly affects health outcomes for individuals, whanau and communities.”
Hogarth, K & Rapata-Hanning M. (2015). Māori health in Aotearoa New Zealand. in Understanding Pathophysiology ANZ 2e edited by Craft and, Gordon (eds). http://www.elsevierhealth.com.au/general-nursing/understanding-pathophysiology-anz-adaptation-paperbound/9780729541602/