Andrew Dickens: Outdated cultural values are killing Māori women

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Mon, 10 May 2021, 4:42PM
(Photo / Getty)
(Photo / Getty)

Andrew Dickens: Outdated cultural values are killing Māori women

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Mon, 10 May 2021, 4:42PM

The news of a boost to cervical cancer testing budget and a move to less invasive techniques is a brilliant piece of news. 

The disease as we know is a killer but also very preventable using techniques such as immunisation against the HPV virus and regular monitoring and testing. 

The testing has always been invasive and that has been a barrier to greater numbers of women being safe, so the news of a less invasive swab is fantastic. 

The only downside is that the introduction of the new testing regime is still years away.  I know there are a lot of t’s to be crossed and I’s to be dotted but these things in the Ministry of Health seem to take an inordinate amount of time.  Just like the Covid vaccination campaign. 

By the way, my company’s flu vaccination campaign is underway.  I got an email, booked a time and filled out a form all in five minutes. I’m being jabbed at 8.39am on May 26th.  Simple really when you put your mind to it. 

Now the cervical cancer testing regime will definitely help Māori.  At the moment 61 per cent of Māori wahine get their smear versus 75 per cent of non-Māori. 

Why is that number so low?  After all Māori and non-Māori all have the same systems.  Peeni Henare explained this a few weeks ago when Kiri Allen announced her cervical cancer. 

For Māori women, much of the mana is tied up with the sanctity of the reproductive system so any fooling with it is a direct attack on their mana. They won’t get the test because it hurts their pride. 

This is the sort of apologetic poppy cock that drives me crazy. 

Because the mana on non-Māori women is also tied up heavily in their bibs and bobs.  The cervical cancer testing regime is deeply invasive, and demeaning, and uncomfortable and degrading.  It affects your pride, or your mana.  It is not nice. 

But the difference is that more non-Māori suck it up and take the test because to die before your time and unnecessarily is also deeply hurtful to your mana.  To your ability to pass on your knowledge and guidance to your  tamariki and mokopuna. 

Māori leaders would do better by their people to guide them towards the future rather than validating some outdated cultural values that, at the end of the day, kill them.