Intended for healthcare professionals


Tribal health policy in New Zealand

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 21 August 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:456
  1. Tariana Turia, associate minister for health
  1. New Zealand

    I greet you as a descendant of the tribal peoples of Whanganui, Ngati Apa, Nga Rauru, Ngati Rangi, and Ngati Tuwharetoa. Our ancestry binds us to the volcanic mountains of Ruapehu and Tongariro in the central North Island of New Zealand, and the Whanganui and Whangaehu rivers that flow down their flanks to the Tasman Sea.

    Twenty years ago our people established our own community health and social services, to deal with the crisis of indigenous health in a colonial society. Conventional Western medicine has been unable to close the disparities in mortality and health revealed in official statistics. Maori people die on average 10 years younger than pakeha (Europeans), often from preventable or treatable cancers and heart disease associated with lifestyle factors.

    As part of our drive towards self reliance and self determination, our people decided to take our health into our own hands, and I was one of the many who got involved. Our health workers aimed to ensure that every …

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