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Maori drink less binge more

Mäori drink less binge more

Press release
17 November 2005

Mäori are less likely to be regular drinkers but when they do drink they tend to drink heavily, according to results of a survey released today by the Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC).

“The Mäori pattern of drinking mirrors that of the wider population which in general displays a risky drinking pattern, that is, binge drinking or excessive per occasion consumption,” says ALAC Chief Executive Officer Dr Mike MacAvoy.

“This drinking culture has evolved over the years; it is part of the ‘work hard play hard’ culture that sees us reward ourselves with alcohol for a job well done, a sporting victory, birthdays and weddings in fact any celebration is a cause for excessive alcohol consumption.

“The Mäori pattern of drinking mirrors that of the general population but they tend to ‘go harder’. Fewer Mäori drink but for those that do drink their average consumption is higher.”

The survey carried out in March this year looked at the current attitudes and behaviours of New Zealanders aged 12 and over towards alcohol. It showed Mäori adult drinkers are more likely to have ever consumed seven or more drinks in one drinking occasion and their consumption of standard drinks on the last drinking occasion was significantly higher than the general population. (6.9 standard drinks compared with 3.8 standard drinks.)

Dr MacAvoy says there are encouraging signs that Mäori, like other New Zealanders, are increasingly recognising the existence of a binge drinking culture in this country and the link between drunkenness and the range of harms that result. “In the past people have focused on drunk driving as the sole harm that results from alcohol misuse but increasingly other harms are being identified such as violence/fighting, accidents and other physical harm and domestic/family violence.”

ALAC is currently running a programme aimed at changing New Zealand’s binge drinking culture. The first stage of the campaign aims to get New Zealanders to understand the problem.

“At this stage of the campaign we are aiming to get New Zealanders to recognise that ‘it’s not the drinking; it’s the way we drink’ that is the problem, that it is the excessive per occasion consumption or drunkenness,” says Dr MacAvoy.

The survey found Mäori are more likely to have been early ‘starters’ - 29 percent started drinking more than the occasional sip before they were 15 compared with 19 percent overall.

Mäori youth drinkers aged 12 to 17 follow similar patterns to adults and are more likely to have ever drunk five or more drinks on one drinking occasion and on average reported a higher level of consumption on their last drinking occasion.

They are less likely to drink at home under parental or guardian supervision. Mäori youth drinkers are more likely to have alcohol purchased for them by friends who are over 18 and less likely to receive alcohol purchased by parents They are more likely to purchase their own alcohol.

They are also more likely to agree that ‘it’s ok to get drunk as long as it’s not every day’.

Mäori youth are more likely to consider violent/aggressive situations as an aspect of drinking that worries them and other teenagers and are more likely to report being personally affected by or involved
health-related harm such as a hangover, loss of memory, or injury, violent/aggressive situations, spending too much on alcohol and sex/being with girls/guys when drunk.

Dr MacAvoy says there is a greater potential for acute harm among Mäori as a result of their drinking patterns and this is reflected in other studies, which show Mäori, have four times the alcohol-related mortality of non-Mäori.

“Having seen that the burden of alcohol falls inequitably on Mäori, we are ensuring the uptake of the campaign messages by Mäori audiences. Our research so far shows the recognition of the message among Mäori is in fact higher than other groups.

“As the campaign progresses, and remember this is not solely an advertising campaign, more targeted messages delivered probably through community initiatives and partnerships, will be developed for Mäori.”

ALAC Group Manager Community Strategies and head of ALAC’s Mäori Whänau programme Marlane Welsh-Morris says this snap shot of Mäori drinking patterns provides us with valuable research to target initiatives to reduce alcohol-related harm for Mäori.

Mäori concerns for managing drinking behaviours have been strong since the first point of contact with British Settlers. Post the Treaty of Waitangi a number of Chiefs pursued parliamentary support for restriction against the acquisition of alcohol as well as laws preventing liquor on Mäori lands. Throughout the period of 1860 – 1950 a number of prominent Mäori leaders including Te Kooti, Te Whiti, Rua Kenna, Sir Apiranga Ngata and Princess Te Puia have led out with initiatives to reduce harm from alcohol for Mäori - a direction that ALAC continues to pursue alongside Mäori Communities.

“There are already a number of initiatives working within Mäori Communities and recently we have worked collaboratively with the New Zealand Mäori Wardens association, the New Zealand Police to develop Te Ara Poka Tika – Project Walk Through which builds on the legislated role of Mäori Wardens to enter licensed premises and to use their presence in a non-intrusive way to monitor these environments.”

Ms Welsh-Morris says ALAC is excited by the progress already achieved which lays a sound foundation for the work ahead.


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