In 1840, Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed by the representatives of the Maori people and by the British Crown authorities as the treaty to state the governance and sovereignty of the Crown as well as the British protection over the Maori people. Nowadays, the functions of the Crown representativeness and protection are performed by the New Zealand authorities (Kingi, 2007).
Moreover, the health promotion practices are also realised with references to the partnership relations between the New Zealand authorities and the local representatives of the Maori people. Although Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed more than a century ago, its role is still important for regulating the aspects of the social development of the country regarding the progress and well-being of the Maori people.
From this perspective, the issue of regulating the health promotion questions should be also examined while referring to Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the founding document in New Zealand. The Maori people discuss Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the treaty to state their equality to the non-Maori people, thus, the principle of equity is involved in the discussion.
In spite of the fact that there are several viewpoints regarding the effectiveness of Te Tiriti o Waitangi to regulate the health promotion practices for the Maori people, it is impossible to ignore this treaty because of its extreme role for determining the Maori people’s rights for health and well-being.
The Aspects and Importance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi
The aspect of protection which is discussed in relation to different interpretations of Te Tiriti o Waitangi is important to be analysed as the key concept to understand the role of the treaty for the health promotion practices in New Zealand during the past centuries and today. While signing the treaty in 1840, the Crown and the Maori people followed rather different goals and intentions.
The British Crown intended to declare the sovereignty in relation to the territories, and the Maori people could accept the conditions only with references to some social and economic benefits as the guarantees of partnership and protection (Health promotion competencies, 2011; Kingi, 2007).
That is why, the texts of the treaty’s translations, as well as the interpretations, differ significantly regarding the parties’ expectations from the treaty and associated advantages or outcomes.
The Maori people perceive Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a kind of the legal guarantee related to the promotion of well-being for the Maori. Thus, the Maori people refer to Te Tiriti o Waitangi when they are inclined to apply to the issue of protecting their interests in New Zealand. This approach is also relevant while discussing the case of health promotion within the country.
That is why, all the acts and legal norms associated with the health promotion issues within New Zealand should be correlated with the Maori people’s interests and needs fixed according to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Nevertheless, there are visions that the treaty cannot provide the Maori people with any advantages connected with the health promotion practices today because of the lack of direct references to the health care issues in the texts of Te Tiriti o Waitangi’s translations (Health promotion competencies, 2011; Kingi, 2007).
The Principle of Equity and the Role of Te Tiriti o Waitangi Regarding This Principle
The Maori people discuss Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the platform to protect their social interests in New Zealand because of suffering from definite social inequalities. That is why, the interpretation of Te Tiriti o Waitangi is closely connected with the principle of equity regarding the health promotion practices.
The principle of equity in association with the health promotion supports the idea that all the people in the country, without references to their social and economic statuses, should receive the equal health services because the focus on inequity violates the human rights (Whitehead, 1990).
The principle of equity depends on avoiding the concentration on differences in statuses and discrimination. However, the problem is in the fact that different social and ethnic groups can suffer from inequalities significantly. These people belong to the disadvantaged groups which can be discriminated in relation to the provision of health care services because of the weaknesses in laws and legal standards (Whitehead, 1990).
To guarantee the fact that the community and authorities follow the principle of equity in relation to the health and well-being of the Maori people, the ethnic group relies on Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the set of traditional legal norms signed by the two parties to state the Maori people’s equality to the other citizens of New Zealand.
As a result, the concepts of protection and equity are accentuated in the text of the treaty to prove the possibilities for receiving the equal health care services in reality. Nevertheless, the practical use of Te Tiriti o Waitangi to support the legality of definite activities is under question because of the uncertainties associated with the treaty’s texts and interpretations (Te Ture Whakaruruhau, 2012).
However, Te Tiriti o Waitangi is still the tool for the Maori people to state their equal rights to receive the health care services based on the developed health promotion practices in New Zealand.
The principle of equity is based on the idea that there should not be any gaps in providing the health services and practices for different ethnic or social groups of people because of rejecting the idea of discrimination according to the human rights norms. Still, disadvantaged groups remain to be the victims of the social inequalities in relation to many social questions, including the issue of health promotion.
To avoid the scenario typical for the disadvantaged groups, the Maori people focus on Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the key to promote the principle of equity for them. This treaty can be discussed as the first step to the Maori people’s self-determination and as their way to achieve the social equality in relation to such an important aspect as health (Kingi, 2007).
As a result, those interpreters of Te Tiriti o Waitangi who belong to the ethnic group of the Maori people or share their visions of the problem are inclined to discuss the treaty as the statement of the Maori people’s right for equity.
The Points on How Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Principle of Equity Are Applied to Current Health Promotion Practices
During the 19th century, the Maori people were discussed as the declining ethnic group because of the people’s problems with health, high rates of mortality and low rates of birth. The supporters of the positive role of Te Tiriti o Waitangi for the ethnic group’s development state that the treaty could contribute to changing the situation and to providing more opportunities for the Maori to avoid poverty and health problems.
During the period of working out the treaty, the Maori people suffered from the social changes which influenced their health because of the observed decline in the people’s economic statuses (Towns et al., 2004). However, Te Tiriti o Waitangi was necessary to respond to the social and political needs of the Maori population because of the focus on all the aspects of the ethnic group’s social life.
Thus, it was stated in the treaty that the Maori could rely on the Crown’s protection. According to Kingi, “in the English version of the Treaty, Article 2 emphasises property rights and Article 3 stresses individual rights.
There is a guarantee of ‘royal protection’ and that Māori will be afforded the same ‘Rights and Privileges of British Subjects’” (Kingi, 2007, p. 7). In this case, protection is provided in relation to the issues associated with the individual rights or the persons’ well-being.
It is important to note that health issues were also meant while the well-being and protection aspects were discussed during the 19th century. Thus, the correlation between Te Tiriti o Waitangi and health promotion questions during the 19th century can be considered as obvious.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to refer to the modern situation and application of the principles reflected in Te Tiriti o Waitangi to the contemporary health promotion practices realised in New Zealand according to the idea of equity. The focus on human rights and on the improvement of health equity is typical for the development of the health promotion practice in the 2000s (Health promotion competencies, 2011).
This approach should be analysed with references to the statistical data on the health of the Maori people in New Zealand during the discussed periods. Thus, the recent life expectancy figures demonstrate the tendency according to which non-Maori people’s life is longer than the life of the Maori people because of the range of social and economic factors (Towns et al., 2004).
Moreover, different social and economic factors do not influence the health state of the modern Maori people completely because the fact of belonging to the disadvantaged group also means the violation of the principle of equity within the society in New Zealand. The evidences on the health of the Maori people prove the ideas that new approaches are necessary to regulate the situation and to achieve the positive outcomes (Kingi, 2007).
Te Tiriti o Waitangi can be discussed as a set of traditional legal norms which respond to the interests of the Maori people and follow the principles of protection and equity. This approach to interpretation of the treaty is rather controversial because many researchers are inclined to evaluate Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the treaty to limit the rights of the Maori people in New Zealand instead of expanding them (Towns et al., 2004).
From this point, the discussion of several perspectives can be relevant to conclude about the role of the treaty for the development of the health promotion practices.
Today, the Maori people suffer from more chronic illnesses than the other part of the population in New Zealand because of the problematic social and economic conditions. The declines in the well-being and health rates are also observed with references to the birth rates (Addiction Practitioners’ Association, 2011; Malcolm, 2002).
On the one hand, the statistics can be used to prove the argument that such acts and treaties as Te Tiriti o Waitangi cannot protect the ethnic minorities from the social discrimination in relation to the health services promotion (Carter-Pokras & Baquet, 2002; Theunissen, 2011).
On the other hand, Te Tiriti o Waitangi is the main source to consider the Maori people as the equal ones to the non-Maori persons because of the interpretations and the social focus on the problem (Carter-Pokras & Baquet, 2002; Ellison-Loschmann, King, & Pearce, 2004).
The issues are obvious, and they need to be resolved within the society in order to avoid inequity in the future. As a result, it is rather difficult to conclude about the effects of Te Tiriti o Waitangi on the health promotion practices in New Zealand today while referring only to one point of view.
All the representatives of the population in New Zealand have the equal rights to receive the necessary health services in spite of their status because of the human rights standards. However, the current situation in the country is correlated with the concept of inequality because of the low measures in relation to the health of the Maori people.
The Maori cannot receive the opportunity to realise their health potential because of a lot of social factors. Nevertheless, the provision of health services according to the national health promotion principles should be equal (Kingi, 2007). Thus, the ideas of the protection and equity stated in Te Tiriti o Waitangi should be realised appropriately.
From this perspective, Te Tiriti o Waitangi is directly applied to the national promotion practices because this treaty regulates the norms according to which the distribution of health services should be provided. Still, the problem is in the fact that these principles of equity and protection are not followed in the real life.
The representatives of the non-Maori population have more opportunities to receive the professional medical help when it is necessary because of the effects of certain social and economic factors. In this case, Te Tiriti o Waitangi cannot work effectively to guarantee the direct connection of the principles with the health services provided for the Maori people.
On the other hand, Te Tiriti o Waitangi is the basic document to guarantee the social attention to the problem and to influence the solution of the equity question within the society of New Zealand.
Although there are many points which should be improved in relation to the health promotion in the country today, Te Tiriti o Waitangi is applied to the health promotion practices because of the focus on protection, partnership, and equity (Towns et al., 2004). These ideas are stated clearly while analysing the aspects of the Maori people’s self-determination and health promotion issues.
It is important to distinguish between the perspectives from which it is possible to discuss the problem. Te Tiriti o Waitangi influences the principles of the health promotion services for the Maori people directly, but these principles cannot work effectively because of the practical flaws in realisation of health care services for different groups of population.
That is why, it is important to pay more attention to regulating the fact of the treaty’s realisation and work within the society. Thus, the role of the treaty for the development of health promotion practices in relation to the Maori is significant, but the weaknesses in interpretations and the approaches to the principles and norms’ realisation can be observed.
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