Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Big gaps in cancer death figures

The latest figures on cancer deaths show a significant gap between Maori and non-Maori deaths for some cancers.

In 2006, the latest year for which full figures are available, Maori mortality rate of 217 per 100 thousand of population was 72 percent higher than the non-Maori rate.

John Childs, the national clinical director for the Ministry of Health's cancer programme, says high Maori smoking rates explain why more than twice as many Maori men and three times as many Maori women will die of lung cancer than non-Maori.

He says more research is needed on some cancers to explain the difference, and there are also issues about treatment quality and access which the health systems must address.

“There clearly do appear to be patterns of differential treatment depending on a number of factors, whether you are Maori or non-Maori. There would also appear to be differential according to socioeconomic status and there are also differential according to where people live,” Dr Childs says.

Maori living in rural areas may find is harder to get cancers detected and treated promptly.


Papakura High School is trying to get more of its Maori and Pasifika students to University.

It's taking part in Auckland University's Pathways pilot, which gives students one on one counseling about their options through their secondary school years.

Project manager Di Corban says while NCEA offers students more choice, it can also lead them off the path.

She says the aim is students pick the right subjects by year 11 or 12 to be able to do the university course they are interested in.

kusabs farm
The head of a Taupo Maori land trust wants to see more professional Maori farm managers.

Andrew Kusabs chairs Rangatira 8-A 17, which runs dairy cows on 220 hectares near Reparoa on behalf of 1500 owners from the Rauhoto hapu of Tuwharetoa.

It's a finalist in this year's Ahuwhenua Trophy for Maori faming excellence.

Mr Kusabs says its success is down to keeping distinct lines between management and governance, and seeking out the best managers.

“A lot of Maori farms growing along the same lines as us are using good expertise, and I don’t care who the expertise is, from Maori or Pakeha, as long as we have the best and I am hoping Maori will play a full role in these things from now on, and I’m sure they're there,” he says.

An Ahuwhenua Trophy field day will be held at Rangatira 8-A 17 on Thursday.


An ope of Maori artists is across the Tasman this week installing their works in the 17th Sydney Biennale.

The nine New Zealanders among the 400 artists in the three month event include sculptor Brett Graham from Tainui, painters Shane Cotton from Ngapuhi and Reuben Patterson from Ngati Rangitihi, and photographer Fiona Pardington from Ngai Tahu.

Graham's show at the Museum of Contemporary Art includes almost life scale models of a stealth bomber and a Russian scout car, carved with Maori surface patterns.

He says Biennale curator David Elliot has put indigenous and western art on an equal footing.

“The curator's quite keen to promote indigenous art or art that looks at indigenous issues and put it on a parallel with western art, which is a bit of a change. We’re used to western art pinching ideas from indigenous art sources but at least this is an attempt to address that an in western art there are hierarchies between arts and craft which don’t necessarily exist in te ao Maori,” Graham says.

The Sydney Biennale opens on May 12.


Auckland District Health Board is leading a new Health Ministry-backed programme to help Maori become leaders in nursing and midwifery.

Taima Campbell, the board's executive director of nursing, says more Maori are needed in clinical leadership roles.

The programme to be launched in Tamaki Makaurau later this week, Nga Manukura o Apopo, will help develop those leadership skills.

“If you have more Maori in leadership positions they are more likely to have some influence about the way that systems work, the way we desing the care we give and supporting the workforce as well, and because we have more Maori in nursing and midwifery positions, that was thought to be a good place to start,” Ms Campbell says.

Other health disciplines will hold similar programmes.


Maori-designed computer games could help young people fighting clinical depression.

Developer Maru Nihoniho and kaumatua Rawiri Wharumate have been working with Sally Merry from Auckland University to develop high-tech therapies.

At the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists congress in Auckland yesterday, Professor Merry unveiled an online fantasy game, Spark, and a mobile phone game, Memo Positive Space, which features four teenage characters and a dog.

She says by talking to young people the developers found they preferred a Bro’town look to the animation, so one of the Bro’town animators helped create the characters.

Professor Merry says 22 percent of Maori girls are likely to suffer depression in the high risk years between 15 and 18, compared with 15 percent of non-Maori girls.

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