7 Jun 2013

Call for health system to recognise Maori men's needs

8:25 am on 7 June 2013

A Maori health study claims there are significant inequalities and inherent racism amongst some mainstream health practitioners when they deal with Maori men.

The Oranga Tane Maori Health Research project released its findings in the latest issue of AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, published by Nga Pae o te Maramatanga centre of research excellence.

The team interviewed Maori men in Waikato about their experiences at mainstream health clinics.

One of the researchers, Erena Kara, says most of the men spoke of their dismay about some mainstream health practitioners lacking cultural awareness and understanding.

She says one of the key things that the men expressed was being Maori was the foundation for them in terms of good health.

Ms Kara says when health providers understood the importance of what being Maori is, Maori men tended to view those providers as being more caring and warm.

She says those Maori men were drawn more to those services who had a better cultural understanding because they were being valued and had built up a good rapport and had better health outcomes, as opposed to those practitioners who tended to distance themselves in the name of professionalism.

Ms Kara says her research team also found similar patterns amongst indigenous communities in Australia where Aboriginal men found some health professionals didn't understand their cultural background.

She hopes more mainstream health professionals will get cultural awareness training.