Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Study finds teen health gap

A comprehensive study of adolescent health in New Zealand has found sizable disparities between Maori and non-Maori continue to exist despite a small improvement in the past six years.

Health researcher Ruth Herd says the findings of the Health and Welfare survey of New Zealand adolescents last year compared to six years earlier were not surprising.

“The disparities are still showing up. We’re still twice as likely to attempt suicide, three times as likely to use substances and binge drinking and also accessing health services is a concern for young Maori. They’re having more difficulty getting services when they need them,” Ms Herd says.

Maori families are more likely to experience hardship such as not having enough money to buy food and over crowding and this is impacting on young people.


Labour leader Phil Goff has confirmned that he will be attending Waitangi Day celebrations on February 6.

However he hopes that the political flavour of Waitangi Day will not be lost if the idea of Waitangi marae chairman Kingi Taurua to give a new perspective to the event with less emphasis on politics is taken up.

Phil Goff says Waitangi Day is an important occasion celebrating New Zealand's founding as a nation based on agreement between the crown and the Maori tribes that signed up to the treaty.

“I don’t think you can or necessarily should take any politics out of Waitangi Day. I think it is an opportunity to have robust debate What I hope is we can also celebrate this as a day that symbolizes New Zealand’s nationhood, our bicultural as well as our multicultural community, and I’d like to see a much stronger celebration of what we are, who we are, what we’re doing in the world, and what we have actually to celebrate being New Zealanders from Maori, Pakeha and any other group,” Mr Goff says.


New MPs have begun introducing themselves to the debating chamber with their maiden speeches. The whaikorero is around 15 minutes long and sets out what the MP hopes to achieve while in Wellington.

It's one of the few times parliament's tikanga demands silence from the floor... with no interjections or heckling from the other side of the House.

Kelvin Davis... the new Labour list MP who comes from Karetu in the Bay of Islands will be speaking on Wednesday and his speech will draw links between his past... and the country's future.

“My tipuna Pomare signed the Treaty of Waitangi andf I guess qwhen he signed it he had all the hope and aspirations that life was going to be better for him and his whanau and hapu and try and draw comparisons to the fact me being here in Parliament I hope to be able to aspire for a better life for my family, hapu and generations to come as well,” Mr Davis says.

Once the formalities are over he's looking forward to getting to work.


Workers group Unite is promising civil disobedience if the National government introduces a 90-day probation period for new workers.

John Key has confirmed that his government plans to pass legislation before Christmas giving businesses with fewer than 20 employees the right to instantly sack new staff in their first 90 days on the job.

Maori union organiser Matt McCarten, who heads Unite, says if the legislation passes Unite will picket any employer who uses it.

“I want to put this government on very clear warning. Our union Unite has decided if this goes through, there’s no moral mandate on this whatsoever. This is a sneaky little trick and we will ignore the law, we will picket, we will take the fight to employer who uses this to sack vulnerable workers,” Mr McCarten says.

He says at any one time 100,000 people are in their first three months of work.


Labour leader Phil Goff says he has an open mind to Maori setting up an alternative Justice system.

Following a recent hui on Justice Maori human rights lawyer Moana Jackson has called for a complementary justice system for Maori which incorporates traditional means of justice which existed prior to European arrival in New Zealand.

Phil Goff says he is not opposed to exploring the idea.

“I've got an open mind on that. Providing you maintain the fundamental principles of fairness and justice, and that means fairness to the victim and holding people to account for their offending,” Mr Goff says.

He says the causes of why Maori make up 16 percent of the population but 50 percent of prisoners does need to be addressed.


One of the researchers behind a comprehensive study of adolescent health says there is a stigma about being young which isn't necessarily healthy.

Ruth Herd, who was puwananga Maori research fellow for the survey which compared youth today with those six years ago, says the country needs to change the way it thinks about young people.

“There is still some stigmas attached to being young and a lot of the behaviours attributed to being young without looking at the environment and the context. Those behaviours didn’t start with the young peolle. They started with the older people so we need to be real careful about how we comment on youth and their behaviours because really we’re looking at ourselves,” Ms Herd says.

The study found considerable disparities still exist between Maori and non-Maori youth such as Maori being twice as likely to commit suicide and three times more likely to use substances and binge drink.

Ms Herd says these are related to over crowding and families not having enough money for living expenses.


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