Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Maori at risk from recession

Figures from the US showing unemployment leads to an increase of depression, cardivascular disease and suicide aren't any surprise to a New Zealand health expert who is predicting the recession will be particularly harsh on Maori health.

Tony Blakely, director of the Health Inequalities Research Programme at Otago University says his own research shows that during the 1990's recession, Maori mental and physical health was adversely affected.

And he is expecting similar things to happen during these hard economic times.

“We know from for economic recessions throughout time and across countries they tend to impact hardest on lower socioeconomic groups and often on indigenous populations so we would expect a bigger briunt borne by Maori,” Dr Blakely says.

His analysis of data collected between 1991 and 1994 found unemployed people were three times more likely to kill themselves.


A frontline officer says Maori police throughout the country will be paying their respects to Maori constable Len Slee who was shot dead during the shot out in Napier at the weekend.

Glen Mackay says while like many other Maori police he will not be able to attend the funeral in Napier today his thoughts will be with Len Slee, his family and the other officers shot in the execution of their duty.

New Zealand police will be joined by representatives from the prison and fire services as well as police officers from across the Tasman.


Massey University will honour one of Maori educations stalwarts, Turoa Royal today with an honorary doctorate of Literature.

Mr Royal of Ngati Raukawa ki Te Tonga, Ngati Wharara, Ngati Hine and Nga Puhi, has spent more than fifty years sparking the interest of rangatahi and encouraging more Maori into tertiary education.

He piloted the introduction of whanau-based learning and was an advocate for recognising cultural identity as an important factor of educational achievement for Maori.
Mr Royal says he's honoured to receive the doctorate however he believes Maori still have a long way to go.

“I'm still looking for more and more. We have a catch up and we have a system that is not responding in an equable way still, and I still have a dream it will come to pass,” Mr Royal says.


A frontline Maori police officer has spoken out in favour of greater availability to police of Tasers following the Napier shoot out in which Constable Len Snee was shot dead and two other officers critically wounded.

Glen Mackay says he doesn't know whether Tasers would have helped during the latest incident but he says they would give officers patrolling the streets today increased confidence.

Glen MacKay says the incident could put greater pressure for police to be armed but personally he thinks greater availability of Tasers is preferable.


Maori Television is taking recommendations that it improve the quality of Te Reo spoken positively rather than focusing on them as a criticism.

Chief executive Jim Mather says MTV is already working on the recommendations in a report into the effectiveness of the Maori Television Servicers Act by broadcasters Tainui Stevens and former TVNZ executive Hone Edwards.

He says this is essentially a matter of fine tuning Te Reo to improve quality.

“For us quality does mean fit for audience or fit for purpose and ultimately the audience or viewers will decide if something is of high quality or otherwise,” Mr Mather says.

He says the style of language used should fit the type of programme being broadcast.


The dangers of bedsharing are not getting through to the families of infants who are most at risk, says the former head of the Maori cot death prevention programme.

David Tipene-Leach says years of campaigning against bedsharing were falling on deaf ears by those who needed the message most,

“We in this country have been saying that for five or six years now and it has made no difference to cot death and all the cot deaths you see are in unsafe sleeping places in there with mothers who smoke and they’re mostly Maori. So the conclusion you have to reach if you have half an ounce of common sense is we’re not going anywhere with this present message,” Dr Tipene-Leach says.

He says more funding towards schemes like Wahakura - where woven flax bassinettes are used in the bed to provide a safe sleeping environment, should be encouraged as should wider education programmes.

A Wellington coroner has called for stronger warnings on the dangers of bedsharing after the deaths of seven babies all from Maori and Pacific families where the babies were either sharing a bed with an adult or put to bed in an unsafe sleeping environment.


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