A report into hazardous drinking in New Zealand reveals that Māori who drink alcohol and live in deprived circumstances are less likely to have a harmful relationship with alcohol if they speak te reo Māori.
Figures on hazardous drinking among Māori which were crunched by the Health Promotion Agency, using three years of data from the New Zealand Health Survey showed the lower the socio-economic area a non-reo-speaking Māori person lived in, the more likely they were to drink dangerously.
HPF’s Deputy Executive Director and Maori Strategist Trevor says these findings are important as they give efficacy to the assertion that the Maori language is an important protective factor for the health of Maori.
“Once learned, Te Reo Maori effectively opens the learner to traditional notions of health and wellbeing- deeper understandings embedded in the language itself. In other words, Te Reo Maori can be viewed as a determinant of health for Maori.”
Hāpai Te Hauora GM Māori Public Health, Janell Dymus-Kurei says the report adds to the evidence that te reo Māori me ōna tikanga (Māori language, knowledge and traditions) are vehicles for wellbeing for Māori.
“Hopefully these findings will precipitate a new approach to health promotion which positions matauranga Māori at the centre. This is how we work in Māori public health and it’s time that the rest of the system caught up.”
Key findings from the report also show: Māori with higher levels of education are less likely to be hazardous drinkers and inequities among Māori and non-Māori persist across all age groups.