18 Jan 2010

Potential windfall for Maori seen in tribunal ruling

4:04 pm on 18 January 2010

Maori Party co leader Tariana Turia says a legal breakthrough in providing paid care for the disabled could be a windfall for Maori.

Her comments follow figures showing one Maori in five has a disability, compared with one in seven for other New Zealanders.

The survey found not only is the incidence of Maori disability higher but the levels are more acute and the need for help is greater - but there is less access to it.

Mrs Turia says one reason for this is that many Maori people take care of their own.

Most common disability types identified

The Human Rights Review Tribunal has ruled that it is discriminatory for the Ministry of Health to pay outside caregivers who look after the severely disabled but not family members who do the same work.

While the Government might appeal against the ruling, Mrs Turia is hopeful it will lead to more Maori getting assistance.

The report - based on a 2006 survey of Maori issues by Statistics New Zealand and the Office for Disability Issues - finds that the two most common disability types among Maori children are special education problems and chronic health needs.

Adult Maori suffer most from mobility problems and then from hearing disorders.