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Introduction to He hauā Māori: Findings from the 2013 Disability Survey

Disability an important issue for Māori

The 2013 New Zealand Disability Survey shows that one in four Māori are disabled. It also shows that, overall, disabled Māori tend to fare worse than other Māori in many aspects of material well-being and quality of life. Given that Māori in general also tend to fare worse than non-Māori in these respects, the intersection of disability and ethnicity can leave disabled Māori particularly vulnerable to poor economic and social outcomes.

Strategies to address Māori disability issues

The vulnerability of disabled Māori has been recognised in official strategies designed to address disability issues. One of the objectives of the New Zealand Disability Strategy is to “promote opportunities for disabled Māori to participate in their communities and access disability services” (Minister for Disability Issues, 2001, p25).

The strategy also acknowledges the special relationship between the Crown and Māori under the Treaty of Waitangi, which in the disability sector has been based on three key principles: participation at all levels; partnership in service delivery; and protection and improvement of Māori well-being (Minister for Disability Issues, 2001, p v–vi).

These principles also underpin the Māori Disability Action Plan, Whāia Te Ao Mārama, which outlines “a pathway towards supporting Māori with disabilities to achieve overall wellbeing, and bringing both them and our communities into a place of shared understanding and action” (Ministry of Health, 2012, p iii). The plan’s vision for disabled Māori and their whānau is:

  • to achieve a good quality of life and wellbeing
  • to participate and contribute to te ao Māori
  • to participate in their communities as other New Zealanders do (Ministry of Health, 2012, p8).

Role of the New Zealand Disability Survey

To enhance the well-being of disabled Māori it is important to be able to monitor progress towards these goals. The New Zealand Disability Survey plays a key role in this, as one of its objectives is to measure the extent that the social and economic outcomes of disabled people differ from those of non-disabled people, and how outcomes vary between different groups within the disabled population. To this end, the Disability Survey, in combination with the census of population and dwellings, collects a range of information on respondents’ economic and social well-being, along with demographic information which enables comparisons across different population groups.

The outcomes captured by the Disability Survey and the census fit broadly within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s well-being framework (OECD, 2011). This consists of a set of indicators organised into key topics which have been identified as essential to well-being in terms of material living conditions (jobs, income, and housing) and quality of life (health, work-life balance, education and skills, social connections, civic engagement and governance, environmental quality, personal security, and subjective well-being).

Not all these topics or the indicators within them are covered by the Disability Survey and the census, but we do have sufficient information on most of the topics to build up a fairly comprehensive picture of the well-being of disabled people.

About this report

He hauā Māori: Findings from the 2013 Disability Survey begins by examining disability rates among Māori, and the types and causes of impairments. This chapter differs from the others because it covers all disabled people including those in residential facilities, and makes comparisons with the total New Zealand population, in order to provide a contextual overview of disability among Maori.

In the remaining chapters we compare social and economic outcomes for disabled and non-disabled Māori living in private households (as this information was not collected for people living in residential facilities). Two chapters describe outcomes related to material well-being (employment and income, and housing and neighbourhood deprivation). Subsequent chapters describe outcomes related to quality of life (education, personal security, social connections, health and life satisfaction).

We focus on comparisons between disabled and non-disabled Māori, rather than between disabled Māori and non-Māori, in order to highlight the significance of disability rather than ethnicity.

See He hauā Māori: Findings from the 2013 Disability Survey – tables under ‘Available files’ for more detailed data relating to this report.

See Social and economic outcomes for disabled people: Findings from the 2013 Disability Survey if you want to compare the situation of disabled Māori with the total disabled population.

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