There is a beautiful whakatauki I heard the other day: ‘miria te pounamu piata ana: polish the gem till the brilliance shines through.' In many ways it could be the vision statement for what is happening at Hauora Pai Wellness and Wellbeing over on the West Coast.
Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is investing in ‘Hauora Pai Wellness and Wellbeing’; an initiative fostered by Te Tai Poutini based Poutini Waiora as one of our Commissioning initiatives. Their mission is for whānau to achieve wellness based on exercise, empowerment and positive change. Along the way there are monthly whānau clinics at Arahura Marae, Hokitika; a six week course on healthy food choices (Appetite for Life); weekly phone calls from the Fitness Instructor. It’s all about motivation; showing up and whānau being in control of their future. What the whānau of Hokitika are showing us all is to seize the day; and let the brilliance shine through.
Stories like those shared by the whānau participating in Hauora Pai Wellness and Wellbeing are what Te Pūtahitanga is choosing to focus on : those small, seemingly insignificant changes in our own behaviour that will create the ripple effects that can last a lifetime. No longer are we choosing to be captured by the findings of reports about how our whānau are not thriving. We are rewriting the stories; we are making our own history.
Two reports were released this week about the interface between Māori and health. The first study, Te Puāwaitanga o Ngā Tapuwae Kia Ora Tonu, showed consistent difference in access between Māori and non-Māori. The second report Tatau Kahukura : Māori Health Chart Book 2015 is a statistical report that presents a national picture of Māori health across indicators (see a summary of the reports below).
So how can ‘Hauora Pai Wellness and Wellbeing’, other whānau hauora and us as whānau respond to these reports on poor health outcome for Māori; the statistics that make for such sombre reading?
The answer is the same as to the question, what is the worth of Whānau Ora?
It is found in our conversations. It is felt by the kuia walking with her mokopuna. It is seen in manaaki and aroha in which we prepare our maara kai whānau. It is heard in the questions we ask : I’ll pick up your script? Have you taken your pills? Let’s go for a swim? Let’s talk about it?
It is experienced in the warmth of the hands we hold as we wait for the results. It is known in the eyes that tell us without speaking that enough is enough.
Whanau Ora; Hauora Pai; Mauri Ora – whatever we call it, the expression of wellness and wellbeing is our greatest source of strength as we plan our futures as whānau, as hapu, as iwi, as communities. Sometimes it takes a lot of polishing to achieve the change we need to see; but there can be no greater reason to persevere; than to consider the possibility of all of our whānau having the best opportunity to shine.
Summary of Recent Health Based Reports
Te Puāwaitanga o Ngā Tapuwae Kia Ora Tonu
The first report represents a population based sample of Māori aged 80 to 90 years living in the Bay of Plenty. Fewer Māori (83%) visited a pharmacist than non-Māori (90%). Fewer Māori had seen the optometrist (48%) than the similar cohort of non-Māori (56%). And fewer Māori in advanced age reported that the doctor was good at putting them at ease during a physical examination. These are interesting findings which inevitably impact on the type of support in place for Māori to be able to enjoy full health in their golden years.
The second report, Tatau Kahukura : Māori Health Chart Book 2015 is a statistical report that presents a national picture of Māori health across indicators. [You can download here]. Tatau Kahukura shows that Māori have higher rates than non-Māori for many health conditions and chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and asthma.
Māori babies are ‘significantly less likely’ than non-Māori babies to have been exclusively breastfed when they were three months and six months old
The Sudden Infant Death Syndrome rate for Māori infants is three times that of non-Māori babies
Māori males are twice as likely as non-Māori to report a high or very high probability of having an anxiety or depressive disorder
Māori children have a higher mean number of missing or filled teeth at school entry than non-Māori children
Māori females were more than twice as likely as non-Māori females to commit suicide
Hospitalisation rate for acute rheumatic fever amongst Māori was more than three time as high as that for non-Māori
Māori aged 5-34 years were twice as likely as non-Māori to have been hospitalised for asthma
While the cancer registration rates are more or less similar, Māori with cancer have a higher risk of dying from their cancer than non-Māori
Life expectancy at birth was 73 years for Māori males and 77 years for females, compared to 80.3 years for non-Māori males and 83.9 years for non-Māori females.
There was one other finding which adds to the picture outlined across the indicators. Māori adults were almost twice as likely as non-Māori to have experienced any type of racial discrimination. Experience of racial discrimination is associated with poor health outcomes and has an impact on a wide range of risk factors.
What both reports show is that socio-economic position is regarded as a major determinant of health and that these issues can be cumulative over a lifetime. In other words, lower levels of income across whānau will have a direct impact on health. There is a really stark difference represented in the following graph which essentially shows that higher proportions of Māori live in more deprived areas. In 2013, 23.5% of Māori lived in the most deprived areas compared to 6.8% of non-Māori;while only 3.8% lived in decile 1 areas (compared to 11.6% of non-Māori).
In conclusion Te Pūtahitanga takes into consideration these findings and the impact of health outcomes for whānau. These statistics do not need to determine our stories for our future and the actions we are taking to assist whānau to thrive and realise tino rangatiratanga.
Ka mau te wehi!