16 Jun 2015

Elder abuse rates low for Māori

9:01 pm on 16 June 2015

A social worker believes understanding Māori tikanga and values could help reduce elder abuse in Aotearoa.

Elderly hands (file photo)

Photo: 123rf

This week is Elder Abuse Awareness Week, which aims to get tāngata whenua talking about the issue and how to stop it from happening.

Elder abuse is less prevalent in Māoridom than in other cultures, with Age Concern figures revealing fewer than 10 percent of elder abuse victims are Māori.

The figures also show 17 to 20 percent of alleged elder abusers are Māori.

Farena Pāhina, of Ngāti Porou and Ngāpuhi, helps kaumātua in the Hutt Valley.

She said she puts the lower abuse rate down to the tikanga and values tāngata whenua learn from a young age.

"We are taught that whānau is the most important thing. We learn that we do need to care not only for our kaumātua but for our pēpē right through to our kaumātua actually.

"One of the biggest values that we have is the value of aroha. I believe that if we can understand some of these values that are intrinsic to us, such as aroha or manaakitanga, then that could go a long way towards being able to support our kaumātua so that they are valued in society.

"We value our kaumatua."

Ms Pāhina said she hoped other cultures could learn these values from Māori.

Age Concern receives 2000 referrals about elder abuse every year, from financial to psychological to physical abuse.

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