Summary: This study set out to explore how accessible health and disability organisations are for Māori living with a disability and their whānau in Southland / Murihiku identifying both the barriers and the facilitators to accessibility, and, based on our findings, to make recommendations for improving accessibility of such services. In Māori concepts of health there is no clear distinction between health and disability and thus no clear definition of disability. Therefore the study did not predetermine the term “disability” and was open to a broad interpretation of it and allowed participants to self-identify their disability. Similarly a broad definition was used in identifying organisations that provide a health or disability service.
As a result, the research had a broad representation across “types” of disability and organisations, as well as covering city, small town, and rural areas in Southland. Data were collected from health and disability organisations, but more importantly, using a kaupapa Māori approach, the team worked alongside Māori living with disability and their whānau to gain their perspective. Our main findings were the four themes that emerged relating to what made our hauā Māori participants feel well and healthy: 1) Feeling valued, (2) Being connected/keeping in touch, (3) Having a strong sense of self identity and self-worth, and (4) Being able to access appropriate resources. Conversely, factors that disabled the hauā Māori from accessing organisations were: (1) Not being valued; (2) Negative impacts of discrimination, colonisation, and disconnection; (3) Lack of self-worth; and (4) Poor access to resources.
This study was funded by a Ministry of Health and Health Research Council of New Zealand grant.