A number of factors determine the outcomes for Maori disabled and their whanau. Some directly relate to how their needs are supported to participate in their own lives, communities and cultural worlds. This participation can shape their chances of attaining a quality of life that matches their aspirations (Ministry of Health, 2012, p. 1).
Over 200 Māori participated in the consultation that led to the development of Whāia Te Ao Mārama: Māori Disability Action Plan 2012 to 2017 (Ministry of Health, 2012). The plan is based on the recognition that “Māori disabled know what works for them” (p.5). In her foreward to the plan the Hon Tariana Turia, Associate Minister for Health, writes
Whāia Te Ao Mārama literally translated means pursuing the world of enlightenment. It is an apt title for this document, 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.
The four priorities of the plan are: improved outcomes for Māori disabled, better support for whānau, good partnerships with Māori, and responsive disability services for Māori.
The 2011 Ministry of Health Māori Disability Research Agenda, Uia Tonutia, sets out three reseach objectives: building quality evidence, capability development, and transfer of knowledge. Uia Tonutia was informed by over 300 participants attending 11 regional hui (meetings).
A key concern of whānau living with disability was that research should enable the voices of Māori living with a disability and their whānau to be heard. Their four key priorities were that research about Māori and disability should: look beyond impairment to quality of life; respect participants’ identity integrity; acknowledge the centrality of whānau; and take a holistic perspective with respect to disability.
The framework was launched in April 2011 by the Hon. Tariana Turia.
An article by Kelly Tikao, Nancy Higgins, Hazel Phillips and Christine Cowan in the MAI Review examines the lives of kāpo (blind) Māori.
The literature shows that while a blind person was often regarded very highly in pre-contact times, perceptions changed to the more recent belief that a person’s blindness brought shame to the whānau or was the result of some social or spiritual transgression.
Another article by these authors in Childrenz Issues explores what its like for kāpo Māori within the education system. Interviews with 21 key informants highlighted that young kāpo Māori are culturally located as Māori first, and kāpo second. Bearing this in mind the authors conclude that ‘the educational choices for kāpo Māori students and their whānau are limited to non-existent” (p.19).