Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Heather Came, Senior Lecturer, Auckland University of Technology
Māori and Pasifika leaders report racism in government health advisory groups

Māori and Pasifika populations in New Zealand experience poorer health than other New Zealanders. Some of this inequity is due to health policies and uneven access to health care.

The New Zealand government often appoints committees and advisory groups, connected to government agencies, in an effort to reduce inequities in health. In our research, we explored the experiences of Māori and Pasifika members on advisory boards in influencing policy development.

We interviewed Māori and Pasifika public health leaders, with a century of collective experience between them, and found that their knowledge was often devalued. They experienced tokenistic engagement and racism. Some indicated that it took considerable effort to establish credibility, be heard and make an impact.

Here are five ways we found that racism manifests in health advisory groups.

Read more: Aboriginal – Māori: how Indigenous health suffers on both sides of the ditch

1) Navigating the room

All participants acknowledged the strategic importance of advisory group work and the challenges of being a solitary or minority voice. They experienced not being heard, a lack of respect, and the absence of authentic consultation and support for Māori and Pasifika health. Several participants noted their contributions were often not recorded in minutes.

The leaders we interviewed developed their own strategies to navigate this challenge. They drew strength and solidarity from other minorities and spoke out or used official complaints channels when necessary. They were proactive in seeking better outcomes and used their seniority to ensure the group remained focused on reducing inequities of health.

2) The battle for evidence

Participants noted that Māori and Pasifika knowledge and research are considered less rigorous and perceived as anecdotal evidence. Government officials relied on research from overseas, usually North America and Europe, which was assumed to be “gold standard” and “best practice”, even though it might not have been tested locally.

The leaders observed how white participants in the advisory group assumed their knowledge was superior and were reluctant to examine the causes of health disparities in ways that would generate equitable health outcomes.

3) Working with government officials

Those interviewed for our research project found government officials had their own cultural and political biases. They were often subsumed in the “bureaucracy of government” and had to work within the politics of prevailing ministers. When combined with high staff turnover and a higher proportion of officials who are new migrants or not culturally competent or experts in the subject matter this led to the development of strategies that are likely to generate health inequity.

4) Suspicions of tokenism

Good policy building requires authentic engagement and functional relationships, yet this was not the experience of those we interviewed. They experienced being invited to advisory groups to create an impression of inclusiveness rather than having a substantive input into policy.

A specific example of this is engaging with Māori kaumatua (elders) as only a ceremonial presence. They are often there to open a meeting instead of being invited to bring their particular cultural expertise to ensure there is a stronger Māori voice.

5) Witnessing and experiencing racism

Most participants disclosed witnessing and experiencing behaviour consistent with racism – patterns and practices of disadvantage or marginalisation. Some named it “covert” or “sophisticated” racism.

Specific examples included a health equity champion who didn’t want anything to do with Māori health, and a proposed breast screening program that was going to target Māori women through a mosque, even though Māori make up a very small percentage of people attending mosques.

We consider that it is the government’s obligation to engage with Māori to fulfil obligations under the te Tiriti o Waitangi. But institutional racism within the policy process fails to create meaningful engagement and consultation.

Read more: Explainer: the significance of the Treaty of Waitangi

In our research we observed the determination of Māori and Pasifika leaders to remain focused on health outcomes and to engage with government. More work is needed, but the possible solutions we identified include cultural and anti-racism training for white policymakers.

Authors: Heather Came, Senior Lecturer, Auckland University of Technology

Read more http://theconversation.com/maori-and-pasifika-leaders-report-racism-in-government-health-advisory-groups-112779

Writers Wanted

My best worst film: dubbed a crass Adam Sandler comedy, Click is a deep meditation on relationships


As the Queensland campaign passes the halfway mark, the election is still Labor's to lose


The Conversation


Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

Important Instagram marketing tips

Instagram marketing is one of the most important approaches for digital advertisers. If you want to promote products online, then Instagram along with Facebook is the perfect option. After Faceboo...

News Co - avatar News Co

Top 3 Accident Law Firms of Riverside County, CA

Do you live in Riverside County and faced an accident and now looking for a trusted Law firm to present your case? If yes, then you have come to the right place. The purpose of the article is to...

News Co - avatar News Co

3 Ways to Keep Your Business Safe with Roller Shutters

If you operate your business in a neighbourhood or city that is not known for being a safe environment, it is not surprising if you often worry about the safety of your business establishments o...

News Co - avatar News Co

News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion