The latest census shows that all iwi have seen a decline in the number of regular smokers, with an average decrease of around nine to ten percent from 2006-2013.
Ngāpuhi saw the biggest drop, decreasing the number of regular smokers by 9.9%, followed closely by Tūhoe and Tūwharetoa.
The iwi with the least smokers include Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāi Tahu and Ngāpuhi. These iwi all sit under the national smoking rate for Māori of 32.7%.
Although this is a move in a positive direction, the national smoking rate for Māori (32.7%) is still just over double the rate of the general population, which currently sits at 15%.
Spokesperson for Whānau Ora Iwi Leaders Forum, Naida Glavish says, “A thriving iwi needs thriving descendants. A focus on iwi health will be a major focus.”
In 2010, Ngāti Kahungunu became the first iwi to develop a strategy to work towards becoming a smoke free iwi. They used a combination of tobacco control strategies and tikanga to stop the use of tobacco products and the carrying of tobacco at marae and wāhi tapu.
The Ngāti Kahungunu strategy is also included as part of the Hawkes Bay District Health Board’s tobacco free policy.
It is hoped that more iwi will also develop strategies to work towards decreasing the number of Māori smokers even further.