Dr Mason Durie calls for cross-sector collaborations for Māori health gains

By Kimiora Kaire-Melbourne

Māori health expert Sir Mason Durie says there have been substantial gains for Māori health over the past 30 years, with Māori life expectancies increasing by eight years for both men (from 65 to 73) and women (from 69 to 77).

In spite of this improvement, there are still significant disparities in areas such as mental health issues, rheumatic fever, diabetes and most cancers.

Therefore Dr Durie is calling for cross-sector collaborations to drive future Māori heath gains.

He says, “Substantial gains have been made over the past 30 years. But the next 30 years will require refocusing towards the determinants of health, requiring a collective effort that transcends sectors, iwi, disciplines, and statutory authorities. This will lead to positive outcomes that are greater than any one agency could achieve.”

Dr Durie has focussed the spotlight on the conditions and behaviours which cause health issues, such as housing, poverty and under-age drinking and asks agencies across various sectors to do their part to address them.

He says, “The health sector alone cannot address these risks to health. A wider community and regional response is required.”

Sir Mason outlined his vision of Pae Ora (Healthy Futures), explaining three principle tenets, Mauri ora (healthy lives); whānau ora (healthy families) and wai ora (healthy environments).

“Mauri Ora is about flourishing: vitality, integrity, and energy, positive relationships in the wider environment – sometimes referred to as a ’life force’; whānau ora is about building whānau capability so that all whānau members can enjoy good health; and wai ora recognises that good health requires healthy environments, both natural and built.”

Sir Mason Durie presented his vision to around 100 people, including representatives from multiple agencies, iwi, healthcare leaders and council at Tauranga Hospital. Workshops followed the presentation and people were able to share ideas.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board Chair Sally Webb says, “It was great to see so many representatives from so many agencies and iwi in attendance and how enthusiastically the message of working across communities and sectors was received. There was widespread acknowledgement that we cannot work in isolation on Māori health as it is an issue with such a broad base.”

Independent Chairman of Smartgrowth, Bill Wasley says, “The message that no one organisation can tackle this issue alone was a powerful one; that we have to align and work together.”