The Measure of Māori Wellness

By John Pickering 18/02/2013 3


Winston Peters is employing classic diversion techniques in order to avoid answering questions as to why he hasn’t sacked Mr Prosser – in this case it is an attack on the associate Ministry of Health about funding of traditional Māori healing (rongoā Māori) through Whanau Ora (apparently $1.9M worth).  He claims that there is no measure of efficacy and that even the numbers of recipients of the service are unknown.

If he is correct, then he has a point.  No Ministry of Health funding should be spent without either good evidence or a good program to gather evidence (presumably first as a pilot scheme and then with continued monitoring).

There is framework by which such evidence could be gathered.  The  framework was the culmination of a research project which developed outcome measures for rongoā Māori based on Māori concepts of wellness.

The Ngā Tohu o te Ora (signs of wellness) research project was developed to investigate outcomes associated with rongoā Māori, in order that this traditional practice might enjoy increased support as a funded service. The primary aims were to:

  1.  Identify wellness outcome measures used by traditional Māori healers, and

  2. Develop and test a framework of traditional Māori wellness outcome measures.

I am no position to judge how good the research was and while the reason for developing the framework has an obvious bias (in order that….increased support as a funded service), I would still expect that this framework at least has been employed to assess the efficacy of the services provided by Whanau Ora.  Has it?  If not this framework, then what?

If there has been no measure of efficacy of the Whanau Ora program, then I wonder what other programs the Ministry of Health has funded without any monitoring?

As long as this is not another Winston Peters beat up, then it may be the tip of the iceberg and an opportunity for evidence based medicine to be pushed to the fore in the MOH.

Tagged: Evidence Based Medicine, Maori, Rongoa, Whanau Ora, Winston Peters


3 Responses to “The Measure of Māori Wellness”

  • Minister Turia just defended (TV 3 News) the lack of monitoring for efficacy by saying that GPs don’t have to report if a patient is cured or not thereby implying niether should the Maori healing practioners. This represents appaling ignorance with respect to how medicine is practised and evidenced. It is scarry that an associate Minister of Health should display such ignorance.

  • Mr Pickering, if we are talking ignorance, you may wish to educate yourself around the analysis of unrecognized indigenous frameworks in fields such as health, literacy, education (& the list can go on) that are ignored by mainstream ideals of how such models should look. For centuries indigenous people around the world have been beaten into believing they their models are inferior to mainstreams institutions, then been shoved into boxes and left to “manage”. As an African from a generation of slavery, these issues are not unique to NZ. Being in NZ for 7 years now, I feel that the mainstream white (middle class especially) are ignorant and unempathetic to the quest of the Maori people. Your NZ history tells a different story of propaganda, which 1) (media propaganda) still evident today and 2) which tells a com[pletely different history as Maori experienced and are currently still experiencing. I think Mrs Turira raises a good point -its not that she is ignorant, she views traditional healers in the same light as doctors & asks why traditional healing needs to fit into a completely different box in order to access the same funding pool. I think you cannot judge the quality of their work until you experience it. As one who has had such experience – I must admit the traditional view of Maori healing is a holistic view requiring preventative care. The work done with this clinic healed my issues with mental illness and childhood trauma the years of clinical psychology and medication could not help me over come. From your comment it is evident you are like many NZ citizens who believe the media propaganda & therefore believe most Maori are like the maori seen on police 10/7 or such programmes. My suggestion is, discover the truth for yourself. Seek out traditional healers, educators, students, etc and hear their stories.. expand your own ignorant sphere.

  • Dear Tiffany
    Thank you for your passionate comment. I think, though, you need to have read the post more carefully before you make a comment. The framework I referred to here was one developed by Maori for Maori. I was raising the point that if there was no measure of efficacy of a program, such as could be provided by this framework, then that is a problem. After all, there are limited resources and it is only common sense that they are spent on programs that give the best outcomes. As for putting me in a box, you know nothing of myself, my own cultural background, or my extensive experience working in education and health with people and ideas from many diverse cultures.
    Minister Turia’s comments appeared ignorant of the extensive monitoring GP’s and the prescriptions they give undergo. They have to be able to justify any medicine prescribed based on the evidence of safety and efficacy. My expectation is that if the government is paying for a health service of any kind by any person that they fall under the same monitoring requirements.
    ps it’s Dr Pickering.

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