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Nāku te rourou, nāu te rourou, ka ora ai ngā iwi

I am sure that you are well aware that there’s been plenty going on in health at the moment.

Our public health colleagues have been leading the way. The early decisive moves made by Whaea Cindy and her health advisors have so far paid off and ensured we don’t go the way of Italy and Spain. But we are not yet out of the woods.

Level 3 and 4 Lockdown prevented the spread of COVID-19 and the anticipated deaths to our most vulnerable. But it has had a huge toll on our economy. You would probably agree that it is better to be alive and poor, than dead and rich. But a global recession is about to hit us like a left hook from Tyson Fury. But what does this have to do with health?

There are huge inequities between Māori and non-Māori in this country, and it’s very apparent when you look at health statistics in Aotearoa. There’s a lot of research demonstrating that these differences are related to the social determinants of health. That is, the differences (or inequities) that exist between Māori and non-Māori in education, housing, employment and income actually contribute to the health of our people. For example, Māori that have low income are less likely to go to the doctor because they may not be able to afford to go, can’t get the time off work, don’t have the transport or money for petrol; and their health is worse than non-Māori who earn the same amount.

If it were possible to wind back the clock to the beginning of March before our first COVID-19 case, Māori had poorer housing conditions,worse access to education, higher unemployment and lower average income, than our non-Māori counterparts. These differences are going to be intensified from the pending COVID-19 economic crisis. So now we shift our focus from keeping people safe from COVID-19 (although that is still very important and it is still a focus for Te Puna Ora o Mataatua) to keeping people in warm and dry whare, educating our rangatahi, getting Māori into well-paying jobs, and making sure we work together with iwi and other agencies to achieve the best possible outcomes for our people.

So, this leads us to our Rangahau Hāora (Wellbeing Survey). In the survey, we are basically trying to understand the social determinants of health within Mataatua rohe. If we can measure the education, housing, employment and income inequities, then we will be able to develop programmes that address these gaps. Through the survey, people also have the opportunity to reach out for support, and we will link them up to the appropriate people inside and outside of our organisation. Nāku te rourou, nāu te rourou, kaora ai ngā iwi.

To return to our boxing analogy, the survey is not going to stop Tyson Fury’s left hook from connecting, but it will soften the blow and allow us to add in counter punches of our own.

So, we will continue to fight to close the gaps in education, housing, employment, income, health between Māori and non-Māori. We also recognise the strength of working together as a collective. Your voice matters. Please fill in the survey to help us understand the needs of Mataatua. So that together, we can thrive.

Please help us gather this important information so we can do the best possible job to look after the Mataatua rohe!

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