Māori health overview

Māori health is an important area of focus for all health services and providers within Aotearoa New Zealand. This page outlines some resources that can help to enhance tino rangatiratanga and strengthen mana motuhake for hauora Māori.

Health equity for Māori

Equity is defined by the World Health Organization as the absence of avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people. The concept acknowledges that not only are differences in health status unfair and unjust, but they are also the result of differential access to the resources necessary for people to lead healthy lives.

Within New Zealand, more work needs to be done to achieve health equity for Māori. Te Aka Whai Ora | Māori Health Authority notes the following inequities: 

  • Māori die at twice the rate as non-Māori from cardiovascular disease.
  • Māori tamariki have a mortality rate 1.5 times the rate for non-Māori children.
  • Māori are more likely to be diagnosed and die from cancer.
  • Māori die on average 7 years earlier than non-Māori.

A Health and Disability System Review in 2019/2020 identified that Aotearoa has unacceptable Māori health inequities, institutional racism and general health systems that haven't improved Māori health outcomes. The government has acknowledged that the current system needs to change in order to address the avoidable unjust and unfair levels of health experienced by people in New Zealand.

Recommendations made by Te Aka Whai Ora | Māori Health Authority include to:

  • Embed mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge systems) in our health system.
  • Invest more in kaupapa Māori health services and providers.
  • Further develop our Māori health workforce, including strategies and funding for Māori providers to increase innovation.
  • Create stronger leadership and direction at the highest system level.

(Health Navigator, NZ, 2020)

Resources

Whakamaua – Māori Health Action Plan 2020–2025 gives practical effect to He Korowai Oranga 2014. The plan is underpinned by Te Tiriti and the principles of tino rangatiratanga, equity, active protection, options and partnership. This is central to Te Tiriti o Waitangi in ensuring everyone in Aotearoa has the same access to good health outcomes. 

Cultural competence, partnership and health equity symposium NZ Medical Council and Te Ora, NZ, 2019

He ara hauora Māori – a pathway to Māori health equity NZ Medical Council, NZ, 2019

Te Aka Whai Ora | Māori Health Authority was established in 2022. Its goal is to lead and monitor transformational change in the way the entire health system understands and responds to the health and wellbeing needs of whānau. 

The Māori Health Review is a regular update that features the latest research in the area of Māori health. It costs nothing to subscribe to and is available for health professionals and anyone with an interest in Māori health. 

Getting better – a year in the life of a Māori medical student is a podcast in which trainee doctor and award-winning writer Emma Espiner (Ngāti Tukorehe, Ngāti Porou) travels to the front lines of healthcare in New Zealand, where life and death decisions are made every day and where the statistics clearly show Māori are suffering: Māori die younger, get chronic illnesses earlier and receive less care than non-Māori.

Whiti Te Rā – a guide to connecting Māori to traditional wellbeing pathways A thematic analysis produced 6 themes or pathways towards wellbeing for Māori: te reo Māori (Māori language), taiao (connection with the environment), wairua (Māori spiritual beliefs and practices), mahi-a-toi (Māori expressive art forms), take pū whānau (Māori relational values) and whakapapa (intergenerational relationships). Journal of Indigenous Wellbeing, Feb 2021.

Te Reo Hāpai – the language of enrichment A Māori language glossary for use in the mental health, addiction and disability sectors.

References

Whakamahia | support, information Te Aka Whai Ora | Māori Health Authority, NZ, 2022

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.