Indigenous Smoking in New Zealand


Fraser Clarke

New Zealand’s Health Research Council is aiming to reduce smoking rates in indigenous groups, thanks to a new $4.95m grant.

As the country pushes towards hugely ambitious plans to be smoke-free by 2025, the higher than average smoking rates among Maori and Pasifika people have been targeted, with the funding given to a partnership spearheaded by Otago University.

Lizzie Strickett will lead the research team for the new programme, known as Hāpai te Hauora, and she highlighted how vital it is to reduce smoking rates in the indegenous population.

She said: “Given that we’re losing 5,000 whānau members a year to tobacco related illness, I would say this research is more than important, it is essential.”

“We’ve been privileged enough to be welcomed into the homes and marae of whānau who have shared such innovative and thoughtful solutions on how to get there, and think this research will be one way in which we can translate their whakaaro into action.”

Working directly with members of the community to create a tailored programme is a key way in which the new scheme hopes to reduce smoking rates, something that was further highlighted by Andrew Waa of Otago University.

He added: “From a Māori perspective, we need to better understand what is causing smoking disparities to exist and what we can do from a policy perspective. We also need to engage and support the group from a community perspective.”

Will New Zealand’s approach to targeting indegenous smoking rates be a successful one, or is the country fighting a battle it’s unlikely to win? Let us know your views on our social media channels.