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Re: Post Colonial Traumatic Stress Disorder

Letter To The Health Minister

August 30, 2000

Hon Annette King
Minister of Health
PARLIAMENT

Dear Minister
Re: Post Colonial Traumatic Stress Disorder
I am writing to inquire whether the department of Health is aware of the diagnosis of the Associate Minister of Maori Affairs, Tariana Turia, that 15% of the population is suffering from Post Colonial Traumatic Stress Disorder.
According to the Minister, people suffering from Post Colonial Traumatic Stress Disorder will show some or all of the following symptoms:
 "Have a poor self-image.
 Have a tendency to self belittle.
 Unable to identify with tribe.
 Identity now based on where they live (urban) and not on genealogy and ancestry.
 Fearful of imprisonment unless cousins are also incarcerated.
 Beat up spouse, children and siblings."
This appears from the Minister's description to be a serious psychotic illness.
Is the Ministry of Health aware of this complaint? Do your medical advisors share the Associate Minister's opinion that Maori are suffering from this psychotic condition? If so, when was this diagnosis made? What plans has the Ministry of Health made to combat this medical condition? Why was this announcement made by the Associate Minister of Maori Affairs, rather than by a Minister of Health?
If your department does not agree with the Minister Turiana's medical opinions, when will the Department of Health be issuing a public statement on this subject?
It is a very serious matter for a Minister of the Crown, in a prepared and considered statement, to claim that 15% of the population are suffering from a psychotic disorder. The statement has caused widespread public concern.
I am sure that if a person in authority but not a Minister had made a similar claim, the appropriate chief medical officer would have issued a strong statement within 24 hours either saying that the condition is serious and setting out what the government is doing about it, or alternatively saying that the statements are medical nonsense and the public should not be alarmed.It would appear that the lack of action is because in this case it's a Minister making the statements and no doubt civil servants feel inhibited from criticising.
I therefore formally request that you as Minister seek advice from your department's medical professionals regarding Tariana Turia's diagnosis and inform the nation of their considered opinion.
Given the huge media attention and the widespread alarm, I request that this be treated with some urgency.

Yours sincerely

Hon Richard Prebble CBE
LEADER, ACT NEW ZEALAND


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