He toka tū moana, he ākinga nā ngā tai.
A rock in turbulent seas.
The experiencs of Māori, the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa NZ, just like other indigenous groups, is of colonisers bringing infectious diseases to our shores which killed us in vast numbers.
The COVID pandemic has brought back memories for many of the The Great Flu of 1918 and 1919 where our death rates were at least 8 times those of non-Māori.
We bring our history and current COVID experiences to each stage of our decision making and planning to the evolving impacts of this pandemic.
The mortality and morbidity gradient for COVID is the same as the socio-economic-cultural inequity gradient that we are already familiar with. COVID kills the most vulnerable. And in Aotearoa NZ that means Māori.
COVID is much more than an infectious disease pandemic, it is a mental health and addictions pandemic too. Around the world this is being called a syndemic, it synthesises the multiplicity of interrelated health inequalities and exposes them.
Globally indigenous peoples are seeing racist government policies continue to put us at disproportionate risk of the many effects of COVID; on our physical and mental wellbeing, our relational, spiritual, and economic self determination, all compromised even further.
As child and adolescent psychiatrists and allied professionals we have a unique set of skills and ethical responsibility to refine our understandings and actions in order to support indigenous extended families during this pandemic.