Heather Anderson, Network News, Head & Neck Cancer Support Network, New Zealand
The Network advocates for people affected by head and neck cancer. In the past we have made submissions to various health projects. Recently, it was the Māori Affairs Select Committee. The Select Committee was inquiring into inequities in Māori health. They called for all interested parties to share their thoughts.
Oh what a fantastic opportunity! After attending the Cancer Conference earlier in the year which highlighted the inequities and outcomes were poorer for Māori, it had been something that I wanted to learn more about. We as a Network are predominantly Pakeha and female. If we were going to make a submission on inequities for Māori affected by Head and Neck Cancer we needed help. We needed our Māori Network members to feel comfortable working together with the Network Board. The goal was to pull a submission together.
I recently heard a Kaumātua say that pakeha are goal driven …. They plan their route directly to the goal. Māori will take a round about route and gather whanau and friends, hapu and iwi together and bring them all to the table for a korero. And so the Network worked to gather whanau and friends, hapu and iwi. Over the weeks we took time for discussion and sharing. The value was in the learning about Head and Neck Cancer, many of the issues that faced our Māori. Those that worked together came to a greater understanding.