Māori men fare poorly compared with other New Zealanders on most health measures:
- Life expectancy for Māori and Pacific men is 73 years and 74.5 years, respectively, 7+ years shorter than the 80.3 years for non-Māori men.
- Cancer is the major cause of death, but Māori men are 1.7 times more likely to die from it than non-Māori
- Heart disease is the second leading cause of death, but deaths occur 5–15 years earlier among Māori and Pacific men compared with non-Māori.
- Diabetes is the third leading cause of death, accounting for 6% of Māori deaths, 8% of Pacific men (with significant increases in deaths occurring from 40 years), compared with just 2.6% of non-Māori deaths.
- Māori are two-and-a-half times more likely to die from diseases that are potentially preventable with timely and effective health care than non-Māori.
- Māori men are 1.5 times more likely to be current smokers than men in the total population.
It’s more than lifestyle choices
Sure, things we choose to eat, drink, smoke and do all have a giant impact on our health. So do a lot of other things.
Things like like poverty, unemployment, poor education, inadequate housing also shape health, just as having health services available and accessible. Māori on average earn 2/3 of the average European income while home ownership rates are less than half of the national average of over 64%. These are real numbers with a real impact on individual and population health.
Changes are coming in the way many services are developed and delivered for Māori, new steps trying to close that 7+ year shorter lifespans for Māori men.
Lots we can do ourselves
There are plenty of things we can still do as individuals, as brothers, cousins or just mates to do our part in putting those negative stats aside.
- Make better (or smarter) kai choices. There are so many good food choices now, and it’s not hard to do.
- Same with the drinking. That sugar stuff can only do bad, we know that. Alcohol can work fine, as long as you’re on top of it and not it on top of you.
- Maybe give the darts away. One in three Māori men smoke against one in seven for non-Māori, and Māori are almost 4x more likely to get lung cancer.
- It can happen, you can get off them.
- Ask your doctor for tests. Firstly, remember your doctor is your mate, health partner. So go to him (or her).
- Māori guys should be getting regular screens for diabetes, bowel, prostate and more, and getting these EARLIER. If you wait, you could be too late.
- These are available, free and the great thing is that if they spring something, they can start to sort it.
And we can do it guys
If Tame can, we all can. When Tame Iti found out it was diabetes that kept him going to the toilet all night, he decided he had better sort it. And man, did he sort it. Check out this absolute inspiration of a Māori man.