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Soc Sci Med. 1985;20(5):483-6.

A Maori perspective of health.


Health is not a universal concept nor are health professionals necessarily best suited to formulate the health aspirations of a people. Like other fundamental objectives, health is defined for Maori people by their elders, at traditional tribal gatherings. Four cornerstones of health have been recognised: te taha wairua (a spiritual dimension), te taha hinengaro (a psychic dimension), te taha tinana (a bodily dimension), te taha whanau (a family dimension). Between Maori elders and Western health professionals, priorities for health are likely to differ, the Western approach emphasising personal dysfunction and socio-economic inequalities; Maori concerns moving to wider cultural factors affecting their community as a whole. The pollution of food sources is seen as a current health hazard with the subsequent cultural pollution a major threat to community integrity and health. Similarly a lack of confidence in Western child rearing techniques has aroused Maori elders into advocating traditional practices with less dependence on biological parents and more on tribal parents. Any widescale intervention aimed at promoting health among Maori people must involve elders and may need to accept alternate goals and methods, relevant to current Maori thinking, though possibly peripheral to established Western health concerns.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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