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11Education and Health System of Indigenous Communities


Aboriginal communities of Australia and Maori from New Zealand are the most known marginalized indigenous people. These people have been termed to lack better educational and health system as compared to other civilians in these countries. Poor economical background, socioeconomic background and culture have been blamed for inability in accessing education and health services among the indigenous community in these countries. These significantly has placed negative implications for both aboriginal and Maoris educational and health outcome especially when accessing the two. The following paper will concentrate on understanding both educational and health systems in Maori, comparing the Maori educational and health system of to that of Australian aboriginals and lastly, finding out what Australian indigenous people can borrow from both health and education system of the Maoris (Hindle & Perkins, 2000).

Education system for Maori people

The New Zealand education system is designed to recognize the differences in ethnicity and culture. The early learners are either taught in English or Maori. The education for the early learners can access school from the age of 4. The Kura kaupapa Maori and Wharekura are institutions that are utilized by the Maori culturew in imparting learning skills. The learning system employs the Maori culture in the imparting of skills and knowledge into the learners. The main base and foundation of the learning experiences is the Maori culture. The Kura kaupapa is manifested with the duty of instilling educational knowledge to learners from year 1 to 8 whereas the Wharekura meet the educational needs of students up to year 13.

Efforts to in cooperate culture in to education practices in schools have been put in place. Up to 1/5 of the students in the primary and secondary schools are from the Maori culture and the improvement of the Maori education has been a priority for the New Zealand government. Separate Maori medium programs have been included in the Ministry of Education of New Zealand strategy in to ensuring the needs and requirements of all learners have been captured and addressed. The aim of the strategy is to increase achievements and decrease disparity in education among the Maori persons. Much emphasis is put in improving and giving support to the Kura Kaupapa Maori schools. It has been noted that pupils in immersion and bilingual learning facilities performed better under the NCEA. Their importance is to promote and legitimatize cultural aspirations and sense of belonging to the Maori community (Raumati, 2006).

Educational system for children with special educational needs is met as there is a special learning process that is designed to meet every unique need that may arise. Adult learners are not left out either as the New Zealand Adult and Community Education supports the continuing needs for the adult learners. The adult system provides educational knowledge in numerical skills, reading, writing and vocational training. The learners have an option as they move to higher learning institutions. Higher learning education process is accessible through universities, polytechnics, Wanaga and other private training establishments.

Despite the high level of performance in international standards by the New Zealand education system, it still experiences high disparities of low and high achievers. It is believed that the Maoris are viewed as reluctant to be enrolled for education as witnessed in the decline in enrollments in the years of 2005 and 2006. Most of the learners leave school before completion and they are perceived to be truant. The Maori people belong to two worlds which they are expected to belong satisfactorily in both of them. Most of them end up being expelled from school and a number of them are reported to be drug abusers.

The Maoris are at times alienated by the education polices that do not in cooperate their cultural differences. Their loss of culture which includes language has at times made them to loss buoyancy and a have sense of individual inadequacy (Maxim institute, 2006). Further loss in culture has led to decreased educational performances, violence, joblessness and criminality. The learning place and the pedagogical approach are of equal importance. The existence of race based programs has also worsened the situation of educating the Maori community. Due to their poor performance in education, the Maori have been labeled as lacking in the intellectual capacity.

Comparison between education system for Maori people and education system for Australian Indigenous people

The Maori educational system has some similarities with the education system of the Australian Indigenous people. The education system in Australia is aimed at providing the Aboriginal early learners with education from the ages of three or four. The main aims of education at this stage are to increase level of knowledge in social, speech, language, cognitive and co curricular activities. The education at this stage is also aimed at inclusion of the Aboriginal culture in to the education system to enable the early learner to identify with the Aboriginal identity, involve the community and family in the education process of the learner and provide knowledge that will enable the early learner to be able to compete at the same level for education opportunities with other mainstream society learners as it aims at addressing the educational disadvantages that the Aboriginal learner faces at the early learning stages (Department of Education, Science and Training, 2003).

At the end of this stage, the learner is ready to join the primary schooling that provides general elementary learning program for persons for 7 years with literacy skills in health, social education, numeric skills and creative skill activities. The learners are ready for the secondary school stage at year eight of learning where the learners undertake a two year general program that is followed by the learner having to do core and the elective courses that are aimed at aimed at suiting the needs and aims of the learner at this stage as it is a specialization stage. The learners are eligible for vocational education training or higher education program after completion of the 12 year schooling program.

However just like the Maori, the Australian indigenous people have faced similar experiences and conditions in the quest for a fair education system. The medium of communication has been the standard Australian English which was hard to comply as they had to learn it as a second language. It is only until recently that the Aboriginal languages was introduced and used in their education process. The education policies discriminated against hem as the education given to them did not offer the same competitive opportunities like the other mainstream society. The education policies were aimed at excluding and segregating them from mainstream society as the policies was not inclusive in nature (Gordon S, et al, 2002).

The education policies were aimed at alienating them and pushing them from having access to land, language, citizenship, job opportunities and culture. The effects trickled and had an impact on the education performances as many of the early learners were discriminated against. Racism was the order of the day as many early learners were left out on many learning opportunities due to their originality and color. They have always been viewed as an underperforming less intelligent race and often were left to empower their knowledge and skills in the sports and extra curricular activities. The inclusion of the culture in the education process was not considered relevant as it was seen as a factor that contributed to truancy and less interest in the learning and education process (Gordon S, et al, 2002).

How education system for Maori people can be apply to education system for Australian Indigenous people

Though similar in some ways, the Australian Indigenous education has a lot to learn from the Maori New Zealand educational system. To begin with, the Australian education policies should aim at supporting the original learning institutions that existed in the Indigenous communities as a way to include their culture in the education process. The education system should make deliberate efforts in the inclusion of the use of the indigenous languages for instructional proceedings. The education system needs to make deliberate attempts to include an effective learning process for the indigenous adults who have been left out. This will offer them avenues to compete equally with the mainstream society counterparts for employment opportunities and enable them to be independent. These deliberate attempts will enable the indigenous get equal access opportunities to educational services and participation.

Maori health system

Maori are considered to have the poorest health systems as compared to other communal groups in New Zealand. It is evident that avoidable deaths among Maori people is double as compared to other new Zealander whereby on average Maori dies eight to ten years earlier. Women and children normally considered as the inferior group in the society suffer more from terminal diseases such as lung and breast cancer. The increase rates of diseases and deaths among the Maori individual is due to low or no diagnosis and less access to efficient treatment (Bloom, 2000). The disparity surrounding poor health system within this community is known to persist more when factors such as racism, ethnicity, poverty, education and culture are considered since they are key determinant toward accessing health status.

Low standards witnessed among the Maoris health systems have resulted to suboptimal outcomes within them, adapting negative attitude towards the whole New Zealand health system in general. Due to this negative attitude, Maori prefer practicing traditional treatment. Research conducted indicates that Maori people receive different treatment as compared to the non-Maoris. For instance, a doctor spend significant amount of time while examining a non-Maori as opposed to a Maori. This is an indicator of racism within New Zealand health system whereby Maori receive less diagnostic tests accompanied with less of ineffective treatment (Bloom, 2000).

Culture is known to play significant role in health since it influences some health related behaviors through beliefs, customs and traditions. Maori have not been left out in the traditional practice whereby they believe that connection to the past is important for the future. Although culture is considered to be important, there have been a lot of misunderstanding and biasness between a non-Maori doctor and a Maori patient. Non-Maori doctors find it hard to adapt to certain cultural beliefs such as tapu and noa which is defined as a persuasive stative dichotomy of restricted, normal and ordinary, mana
which signifies authority and maanakitanga which is concerned with obligations (Lapsley, 2000). Just like people from customary background, Maori preferred seeking traditional treatment such that they were reluctant in visiting modern health facilities. Traditional treatment would always contradict with non Maori modern treatment. This is because it required a non-Maori doctor to listen at traditional prescription offered to a patient before he could administer treatment.

Comparison between health system for Maori people and health system for Australian Indigenous people

As compared to the Maoris, cultural beliefs and practices by the Australia aboriginal community has hindered health services to them. Due to westernized modern health care, the aboriginal community tends to feel disempowered making them to prefer traditional medicine. Different cultural practices were used by the aboriginal communities to respond to certain illnesses especially in regard to their care providers. In relation to this various cultural practices, problem regarding language created communication barrier between other Australian doctors and an aboriginal patient. On issue of cost and affordability, it has contributed widely on minimal access to better health facilities especially due to limited economical means. As Maoris, the Australian indigenous communities are poorest and this has been attributed to reason why this community can not access to better health facility.

In Australia, aboriginal and Torres Strait islander did not have the same health system as compared to the rest Australians. Numerous factors have been found to contribute to reduced level of health system among these indigenous communities. Here, poor access to better health system was not only connected to health services offering basic care but also to specialized treatment such as obstetrician. The aboriginal community in Australia suffered greatly because of poor infrastructure making it hard for them to receive basic health care. Research indicates that one in ten aboriginal Australia who needed to have sought medical attention did not due to poor access to health care resulting from poor infrastructure (Duckett, 2000).

How health system for Maori people can be apply to health system for Australian Indigenous people

It is evident that indigenous health is just not the well being of individuals but cultural, emotional and social well being of the community. Australian should incorporate cultural competence into their health system so as to cover the well being of its aboriginal community. It is essential that they incorporate language from these communities just like Maori so as to do away with communication barriers that existence in between them. Incorporation of several languages in their health system will result to acceptability of modern treatment which is perceived by many as a disempowerment of the aboriginals.

It is essential that Australian aboriginal community accept that roles of various cultural aspects just like the Maoris who have recognize importance of whanau (family) as one who support individual when seeking for treatment. By so doing there is greater interlink between Maoris and non Maoris destroying racism barrier that exists between this two communities. New Zealand government has come to accept the importance of incorporating Maori providers into their heath systems. By so doing, Maoris no longer feel left out on health related issues. Australian should follow this suit as a way of minimizing racism in their health facilities (Duckett, 2000).


Bloom, A. (2000). Context and lead-up to health reform, in A. L. Bloom (eds) Health Reform in Australia and New Zealand. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Department of Education, Science and Training. National report to Parliament on Indigenous education and training, 2003. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2005.

Duckett, S. (2000) The evolution of the purchaser role for acute in-patient services in Australia, in A. L. Bloom (eds) Health Reform in Australia and
New Zealand. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Gordon S, Hallahan K, Henry D. 2002. Putting the picture together. Inquiry into response by government agencies to complaints of family violence and child abuse in Aboriginal communities. Perth: State Law Publisher;

Hindle, D & Perkins, R. (2000). Health care financing in Australia and New Zealand, in A. L. Bloom (eds) Health Reform in Australia and New Zealand. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Lapsley, H. (2000). Quality measures in Australian health care, in A. L. Bloom (eds) Health Reform in Australia and New Zealand. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Maxim Institute policy Maker; Current Issues in Maori Schooling: Education September 2006. Retrieved from the ministry of education website on the 25th March 2011 http://www.minedu.govt.nz.Qial Forecast

Raumati, H. 2006. A Future for Mäori education seminar given at the treasury (Kaitohutohu Kaupapa Rawa), September 26, 2006.