Kapa Haka and te reo Māori may help Māori avoid dementia

New research suggests that participating in kapa haka and speaking te reo Māori may help older Māori avoid dementia.

The study, conducted by the University of Auckland, received $1.8 million in Government funding and has been touted as the world’s first longitudinal study of an indigenous population in advanced age.

The Life and Living in Advanced Age: a Cohort Study in New Zealand (LILACS NZ) produced a number of reports about Māori and non-Māori health needs and comparisons were made to investigate potential disparities.

The Health, Independence and Caregiving in Advanced Age report is the first study to consider dementia among Māori.

Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner says, “Researchers found cultural activities such as kapa haka and speaking te reo may help preserve cognition for older Māori.” 

This is a fascinating new insight into ageing and what it means to age successfully, particularly for older Māori. Research such as this is incredibly important for developing health and disability policies for our ageing population.”

According to the report “Older Māori have substantial roles involving advanced cognitive activities and, along with kapa haka, cultural activities may provide greater cognitive stimulation and thus preservation of cognition with advanced age for Māori.”

Dementia care in New Zealand last received a funding boost of $100 million in 2011. Associate Health Minister says, “Further strengthening of the dementia care framework is part of the Government’s Healthy Ageing Strategy, which recognises the higher care needs of some older Māori and makes commitments to reducing health inequities.”

The latest report can be located here: https://www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/assets/fmhs/faculty/lilacs/research/docs/Dementia-Supplement-Research-Report.pdf