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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, August 11, 2006

Meningitis death does not undermine campaign

A south Auckland health worker says the first fatality of a toddler who was fully immunised against the meningococcal B virus should not be a cause for alarm to Maori parents.

Bernard Te Paa , the Maori services manager for Counties Manukau Health, says it's an isolated case and not an indication the epidemic is on an upswing.

Mr Te Paa says the $200 million vaccination programme is working:

“The latest reports they show there only been two children have died from meningococcal this year. That indicates to us that although there are some risks, there are a heck of a lot of tamariki whose lives are not only being saved but in terms of admissions to hospital, those have been signficantly reduced,” Te Paa said.

Bernard Te Paa says non vaccinated children are five times more likely to contract the disease than vaccinated children,

TEENS NOT TURNED ON BY POLITICS

Labour List Mp Shane Jones says while Maori and Polynesian youth have the potential to be a significant force in elections, that potential is likely to be unrealised because of political apathy.

Mr Jones says the Maori Party underestimated the level of complacency among rangatahi, when it predicted a huge swing to the Maori roll.

“There's an air of indifference from our young people towards politics these days. They don’t seem to have the same level of enthusiasm we had in the ‘80s. And that’s possibly because of the economic buoyancy and they’re interested in other things. And possibly they get put off by the adversarialism that passes for parliamentary politics,” Jones said.

EDUCATION RELATED TO WORK INJURIES

An Auckland University of Technology researcher says Maori have disproportionately high accident rates because they are more likely to be in dangerous jobs.

Sociologist Camille Nahkid says that is because they have on average lower levels of educational achivement.

That means more Maori are working in manual occupations like building, manufacturing, forestry or meat processing which carry a higher risk of injury.

LOW SCORE FOR INDIGENOUS DAY

Maori lawyer Annette Sykes says the government is not going to be let off the hook for its dismissal of a report on New Zealand's race relations by a senior United Nations official.

Ministers rejected the report by special rapporteur Rudolfo Stavenhagan because they said it was unbalanced and incorrect.

Ms Sykes told a World Indigenous Day forum at Otago University that the report hasn't gone away, as it will soon be presented to the General Assembly.

Annette Sykes says government actions since Dr Stavenhagen's visit, such as the removal of treaty references from the school curriculum, show a deepening hostility to Maori rights.

INEQUALITY IN INCOME STATISTICS

Recent rises in employment figures are masking the reality of income inequality facing many Maori workers.

That's the view of Dr Evan Poata-Smith a sociologist at the Auckland University of Technology, who says the fact income equality has got worse over the last five years should be a cause for concern.

He says Maori still tend to be in lower paid jobs with poorer conditions:

WHANAU UPSET AT MENINGITIS STETEMENT

A relative of the boy who died in Waikato this week of meningicoccal disease is upset at a government declaration of the success of the meningitis immunisation programme.

On Tuesday Health Minister Peter Hodgson released a statement saying there had been no deaths since the programme began.

Kaumatua Rangi Kawerau from Ngaruawahia says that was at the same time his whanau was preparing to bury his two year old grand nephew.

Rangi Kawerau says it has been a traumatic week for the whanau.

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