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Māori youth health and wellbeing improves

Māori youth health and wellbeing improves but is still concerning

Māori secondary school students are happier and are less likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and use marijuana compared to Māori students in 2001.

"While the health of Maori secondary school students has improved since 2001, there remain some concerning disparities" says Dr Terryann Clark from the School of Nursing and a co-investigator on the project. "Compared to Pākehā/NZ European students, Māori students are more likely to experience socio-economic hardship, be exposed to violence and have higher health needs like being overweight and experiencing emotional health concerns."

Overall, Māori students have more health issues but are more likely to experience difficulty accessing health services when they when they need them.

These new research findings come from Youth'07, New Zealand's second national survey of the health and wellbeing of secondary school students, conducted by the Adolescent Health Research Group at The University of Auckland. From this large study of 9500 students there were 2059 Māori youth representing secondary schools and Wharekura from around New Zealand.

"Despite the disparities Māori students experience, they report many strengths and assets. For example, almost all Māori students report they are proud to be Māori and over one-third speak and understand te reo Māori. Most Māori students say they want to stay at school till year 13 (form 7), and almost 90% of Māori students said that their parents care about them very much" says Dr Clark.

The findings from Youth'07 reflect what young people are saying about how things are for them; it describes their lives, their assets and their challenges. The findings highlight areas where improvements in health should be made and will be invaluable for policy-makers, families and schools who care about the future for young people and indeed, our wider society.


Key Findings

Compared to Māori students in 2001, Māori students in 2007 are:

• Happier: 91.2% of Māori students reported that they are satisfied with their life. Fewer Māori males reported depressive symptoms in 2007 (4.9%) compared to 2001 (9.9%), and fewer Māori reported a suicide attempt in 2007 (6.9%) compared to 2001 (11.5%).
• Less likely to drink alcohol, use cigarettes and marijuana: Fewer Māori students in 2007 reported they had ever tried alcohol (84.5%) compared to 2001 (89.5%). Fewer Māori students in 2007 (50.1%) report that they had ever smoked a cigarette compared to 2001 (66.6%). Fewer Māori students have ever tried marijuana in 2007 (47.8%) compared to 2001 (57.7%).

Māori students report many strengths including;
• 97% report they are proud to be Māori
• 34% speak and 39% understand te reo Māori fairly well or better
• 75% of Māori students say they want to stay at school till year 13 (form 7)
• 88% of Māori feel they are part of their school
• 87% said that their parents care about them very much

However compared to Pākehā/NZ European students, Māori are more likely to:

• Come from lower socio-economic environments: Māori are more likely to come from lower decile schools, live in economically deprived communities than Pākehā students. In addition, 10.4% of Māori students worried frequently about not having enough food.

• Be exposed to violence in their communities and homes: Twenty three percent (23%) of Māori students have witnessed an adult hitting or physically hurting a child in their home (compared to 17% of Pākehā), and 19.8% do not feel safe in their neighbourhoods. 17% of Māori students reported experiencing a sexually coercive or abusive situation.

• Have mental health concerns: Māori females (16.4%) were significantly more likely to report depressive symptoms than Pākehā/NZ European females (12.7%). Māori females (9.6%) and males (4.4%) were more likely than their Pākehā peers (females 5.1%, males 2.4%) to have made a suicide attempt in the past year.

• Use contraception inconsistently: Māori students (74.2%) are less likely to report always using contraception compared to Pākehā students (87.3%).

• Be overweight: Thirty percent (30.2%) of Māori students are considered overweight and 16% obese (compared to Pākehā, 23.9% overweight and 10.2% obese).

Not be able to access health care they needed: Nearly a quarter (22.8%) of Māori students were not able to get the healthcare they needed in the previous 12 months compared to 17% of Pākehā/NZ


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