Health of Māori and Pasifika men in dire state

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

3,000 Kiwi men die every year of a preventable illness. Pākehā men also live seven years longer than Māori men. Men's Health Month kicks off today and organisers of the initiative are encouraging more men to get health checks in an effort to change those statistics.

Tom Mulholland is an emergency doctor on a mission making house calls around the country, including to marae to stop preventable diseases among men.

"Whakaaro pai, healthy thinking, so, its thoughts create emotions which create behaviours, so change what you think about your health, about your emotions and teaching men not to be angry or frustrated and stressed, is just giving men thinking strategies," said Dr Mulholland. 

According to Men's Health, more Māori and Pacific Islanders die early from preventable deaths.  One Kiwi male dies every three hours, however for Māori and Pasifika, every two hours. Heart disease tops the list of reasons. Chair, Phil Clemas says, "It's the wrong food, it's the lack of exercise, it's not drinking enough water and stress. So we can do a lot to try and better manage or make better choices."

"We're over indulging in a lot of our traditional foods. What sort of meats we're eating, are we cutting away the fats? We can still eat the ga'o and the kumara, but it's around the portion sizes," said Men's Health trustee Pulotu Selio Solomon.  

Men's Health Trust hosted its 8th annual breakfast to launch Men's Health Month, the focus, to raise awareness and solutions to improve men's health.

"Smoking, smoking, smoking, diabetes, diabetes, sugary drinks, sugary drinks, yeah, yeah, that's the main two. You don't need sugary drinks, just need water. 90% of forestry crews around East Cape, Tokomaru Bay are smoking and that's what kills people," said Dr Mulholland.

"I think our Pacific and Māori men just really need to own their own health because then that actually helps their whole family," said Solomon.

Men's Health have launched #MenStartTalking for men to continue talking about their health.