Improving Māori health is an important area of focus for all health services and providers within New Zealand. This page outlines some of the definitions, issues and sector resources including health information in te reo Māori.
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Definition of Māori ethnic population
As defined by Statistics NZ, ethnicity is "the ethnic group or groups a person identifies with or has a sense of belonging to. Māori ethnic population is the population who identify themselves with Māori ethnicity. It is a measure of cultural affiliation (in contrast to race, ancestry, nationality, or citizenship)".
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, some gains have been made towards health equity over the past 20 years such as equal or better immunisation rates for Māori children. However, as outlined in He Korowai Oranga Māori Health Strategy 2014, "more work needs to be done to achieve health equity for Māori and for all New Zealanders. This work includes collaborating across sectors to make progress towards this goal". The same report notes that:
- Māori life expectancy is considerably lower than that for non-Māori
- overall, mortality rates are also higher for Māori than for non-Māori at nearly all ages
- Māori health status remains unequal with non-Māori across almost all chronic and infectious diseases, as well as injuries, including suicide.
Treaty of Waitangi – Te Tiriti o Waitangi
Since its signing in 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi has come to be considered a “statement of the individual and collective rights of Māori, the Crown’s responsibility to Māori, and a charter for New Zealand as a whole”. The Treaty guarantees Māori equal access to national resources, and can be seen to require the government to ensure that Māori have “at least the same level of health as non-Māori”.