Papaarangi is Tumuaki and Head of Department of Maori Health at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand. She holds science and medical degrees from the University of Auckland and is a specialist in public health medicine. She has tribal affiliations to Te Rarawa in the Far North of Aotearoa and her research interests include analysing disparities between indigenous and non-indigenous citizens as a means of monitoring government commitment to indigenous rights.
What is the cost of Māori health inequities in Aotearoa?
In New Zealand, the most compelling and consistent health inequalities occur between Māori and non-Māori. Although the cost of reducing inequalities is perceived as high, a recent study for Māori children showed that the economic cost of “doing nothing” is significant for New Zealand society highlighting the fact that such inequalities are preventable, unnecessary and a breach of human rights.
Inequalities in child health between tamariki Māori and non-Māori are largely preventable and unnecessary. An example is rheumatic fever, where tamariki Māori are 30 times more likely to contract the disease than non-Māori.
Being ill as a child has a big impact on school attendance and outcomes, and it may cause lifelong disability or illness. There are high costs involved, both for the health system and for society.