Yet another piece of legislation ("The Health and Disability Services Act of 1993") provides that the employment needs of the Maori should be taken into consideration, but no mention of the Treaty of Waitangi. Bennett points to the New Zealand Government's statement regarding health (June 1992) with reference to the Treaty (Bennett 146); the government "regards the Treaty of Waitangi as the founding document of New Zealand, and intends to address land and health issues through consultation and discussion." That is basically saying, we'll look into it but we're not making any commitments right now. The government's narrative continues with reference to Article 2; the claim that "protection of the health of Maori has (through Article 2) a special claim on New Zealanders as a whole, over and above the responsibility of the Crown to secure the health of all citizens is, however, not one the Government accepts."
Again, the New Zealand Government is using language from the Treaty, but Bennett points out, at the same time the government is denying it has specific obligations under the treaty.
Social Services that are Available to Maori Peoples:
The New Zealand government may be reluctant to bring the Treaty into discussions when it comes to social services legislation, but the nonprofit group SAFE - reportedly the largest "community-based" therapy group working with adult and adolescent sex offenders - openly embraces the Treaty and its benefits for Maori people. While being mainly funded by the New Zealand Government (Child Youth & Family Services; Ministry of Health; Department of Corrections; Crime Prevention Unit), SAFE takes positions that the government will not accept. For example, SAFE states that the "Treaty of Waitangi" is an agreement that sets up a "partnership relationship between Maori and Tau iwi in New Zealand."
That means that SAFE's policies reflect the acceptance of the Treaty as a meaningful document that should be enforced to recognize the Maori as worthy citizens, fully eligible for any and all services the government offers to non-natives. SAFE pledges to treat Maori clients and staff in "culturally safe and respectful" ways. Also, SAFE promises to make every effort to have Maori clients seen by Maori staff; and SAFE encourages the development of "appropriate treatment services for Maori."
The Health Promotion Forum (HPF) of New Zealand states in its policy guidelines that it "takes account of the 1840 te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi) which is New Zealand's "founding contract between Maori and the Crown." Here is another social services agency - that goes against the grain of official New Zealand Government policy - that is offering social programs and hands-on healthcare services to Maori as part of the Treaty's stated promises. The HPF is a national umbrella organization that provides "information, coordination, training and skills development" for members of HPF and for the "workforce at large" in New Zealand.
This is more of an advocacy organization than a healthcare delivery system, but HPF goes beyond teaching good public health practices and takes an approach to "social justice and social change." This approach is needed, the HPF organization insists, because there is "poverty and discrimination" as well as "inequalities" in the workforce of New Zealand. The right to a healthy life is a "fundamental human right" and people need to be treated "with fairness and respect" (Health Promotion Forum, http://hpforum.org.nz/).
Health is understood as a "holistic concept embracing a Maori model of health," the HPF asserts. In that model, good health is recognized as being "dependent on a balance of factors affecting well being."
Among those Maori healthcare descriptions are: "Wairua" (the spiritual); "hinegaro" (mental); "tinana" (physical health); "te reo rangatira" (language); and "whanau" (family). All these elements, believed to be assured to the Maori people through the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi - and accepted as historically and contemporarily legitimate by HPF - interact to produce what the Maori believe will be "well being."
An important part of keeping humans in a circumstance of well being, the Maori believe, is for the "tea o turoa" (environment) to be in a healthy condition. And so the HPF cooperate with Maori to help them stay healthy emotionally as well as physically....
The HPF further asserts that the Treaty of Waitangi is indeed "the founding document of Aotearoa" and as such, the Treaty is the "key to health promotion" in New Zealand. The HPF urges the New Zealand Government to offer "formal recognition of the Treaty and the application of it within health promotion."
And when the Treaty alluded to "partnership" between native peoples (Maori) and the Crown, the HPF asserts that "partnership" in that sense meant a united front to provide healthy conditions and health-related services. One example of a good partnership between "the Crown and Maori," HPF explains, would be a "drink-drive program" that is "collaboratively delivered by a Maori and a mainstream organization." scholarly article in the journal Social Policy & Administration (Lunt, et al., 2002) points out that the Maori are not the only minority in New Zealand to experience cultural and racial discrimination. Indeed, full civil and political rights "were not achieved for [New Zealand's Chinese community until the 1950s" (Lunt, p. 348). And the poll tax on Chinese immigrants was not abolished until after World War II. Meantime, Lunt addresses the decisions that the New Zealand government has taken that seriously hurt the Maori's ability to provide for themselves when it comes to health and welfare.
When the government deregulated and privatized many industries - such as railroads, airlines, banks, coal and forestry - through the "State Owned Enterprises Act" (1986) it hurt Maori people a great deal. There were labor groups that "mounted some opposition" but the Maori "initiated legal action" based on a clause in the State Owned Enterprises Act. That clause stated, "no action should abrogate the Treaty of Waitangi," Lunt writes (350). And the courts looked favorably on the Maori in that litigation since resources such as coal "could not be sold while they were still subject to claims from Maori." Some concessions were obtained from the government and the process of privatizing the coal industry was delayed for a time.
Nevertheless, that litigation notwithstanding, between 1987 and 1989, the number of Maori people who had worked for the coal and forestry and railway sectors was cut back dramatically through these government moves to privatize (i.e., unions no longer were able to keep their members employed as they were when the government owned the coal, forestry and railway industries). Lunt points out that nearly one in five Maori workers lost jobs by 1989, due to the privatization program launched by the New Zealand government. That information is pertinent to this research because of the fact that with good jobs the Maori were able in many instances to provide healthcare and other social services to their families. But once the jobs began to disappear, poverty, ill health and depression were all too common.
Maori Caught in Racist-Related Health Problems:
In the journal Lancet the writers review a recent study showing that the health of Maori people is not good, and the underlying reasons for that is the discrimination that Maori have to endure. Notwithstanding the rights they should have under the Treaty of Waitangi of 1840, Bhopal writes that Maori health is "comparatively poor."
He bases that assessment on a study that compared the health inequalities in New Zealand and the U.S.A. with the health of the Caucasian population in Europe. A "wide range of health and healthcare indicators" were used, writes Bhopal (with the Public Health Sciences Section, Division of Community Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh) and those indicators showed that life expectancy in Maori men was 8-9 years less than "European men in New Zealand." The study Bhopal refers to (conducted by the University of Edinburgh) used indicators of racism and deprivation in questionnaires of 4,108 Maori and 6,269 European New Zealanders; the findings reflected "socioeconomic deprivation" and racism (which keeps this culture in a struggling mode rather than reaching social status that Caucasian New Zealanders enjoy).
The history of the British colonization of New Zealand - based on the promises made in the Treaty of Waitangi - has not been an honorable one. This is not a new revelation, but one that has been well documented for many years. Still, the problems that face the Maori - and whether or not solutions for those problems will be linked to a new perspective on and acceptance of the Treaty of Waitangi - are significant and won't be solved anytime soon.
Still, Maori activist Ross Himona believes that in order for the Maori people to begin to enjoy a bigger part of the decision-making that goes into the country they need to be given the opportunity to engage fully in the discipline of "Community Development." By that he means gaining "equality of opportunity and achievement" for Maori individuals. The main enemy of achieving…
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