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Maori Needs Are Not Being Met in Southland

Maori Community Needs Are Not Being Met in Southland

Rahui Katene,

Candidate for Te Tai Tonga Thursday 2 October 2008

Southland District Health Board plans must directly confront the growing poverty and resulting health issues for many Maori living in Southland, according to the Maori Party candidate for Te Tai Tonga.

"There is a new level of poverty emerging, especially in small rural towns attracting seasonal and itinerant workers who are largely Maori," says Rahui Katene.

“The Maori population in Southland is the highest of all the South Island District Health Boards. In the rest of New Zealand Maori, on average, have the poorest health status of any group, are less likely to access primary and secondary health services and are late at presenting with symptoms," said Mrs Katene.

"In Southland it is difficult to recruit and retain health professionals. The increasing prices of food and petrol mean trips to the health care professional are low on the agenda.

“Transient and itinerant workers suffer greater isolation and stress because they do not know anyone and have poor access to information. In towns like Mataura 37% of the Maori population are under twenty years of age and only 13% are over sixty," she said.

According to the deprivation index Mataura is one of the most deprived areas of New Zealand where the median household income is 66% of the New Zealand average.

A recent study of health needs in Mataura shows that the life expectancy of Mataura residents is lower than for other New Zealanders, especially among Maori. Many deaths are from potentially avoidable conditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease and cancers. The prevalence of smoking among Mataura residents is 35%, higher than for New Zealand as a whole (21%)

“Our children and youth are the most vulnerable groups as whanau are under great stress due to low incomes and the resultant health and social issues,” Mrs Katene said.

“These issues are not unique to Mataura, they are relevant to all small communities in Southland.

"The solutions to community health problems always lie in the community itself not in some urban centre 50 kms away. Remote communities desperately need community based services.

The District Health Plan needs to recognise this to improve this dire situation,” said Rahui Katene.


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