Iwi Māori Council and the Kaumātua Kaunihera Tobacco Cessation Plan Tupeka Kore was launched on the 10 and 11 November with the convening of Quit Coach training held at Kingsgate Conference Centre, Hamilton for over 50 Māori staff predominantly from Māori providers across the greater Waikato DHB district.
The Quit Coach training was aimed directly at Māori staff from Māori health provider organisations who work directly with many hard to reach whānau.
The training was organised by Te Puna Oranga, Waikato DHB’s Māori Health Service.
Ditre Tamatea, general manager Māori Health at Waikato DHB, said that smoking was the largest contributor to death and illness for Māori, but that this trend is entirely avoidable.
Mr Tamatea acknowledge the sacrifice and courage of the Māori Battalion in WW11, but said that greater numbers of Māori are lost each year to tobacco-related diseases than died during all of WW11.
“I believe tobacco use has moved beyond just a health issue to being a threat to the development of entire generations of Māori whom had something to contribute to their whānau to their community and to their iwi.
Leilani Kaponga, qualified personal trainer with Te Whare Oranga in Huntly, was one of those attending the first day of training. The 34-year-old mother of five is committed to gathering skills and knowledge that will help her support her clients and customers.
Leilani said each individual is on their own journey, and her role is to support them and keep them on track to achieve what they want.
Her organisation offers gym sessions, personal training, tai chi to help older people with arthritis, programmes such as “The Biggest Loser” for weight loss and ‘green prescription’ support for those with chronic illness, as well as organising touch games for local children and many other activities.
“Quite a few of those participating in our programmes smoke. You can smell it on them, or they say they need to have a smoke before and after doing exercise in the gym,” she said.
“Doing a course like this helps me understand where they are coming from – maybe they are afraid of putting on weight when they give up smoking, or maybe they can be motivated by benefits like breathing better at night and not being so tired. Quitting smoking can be a bit stressful on the whānau, but it really helps them have a bit more cash in the pocket!”
The Waikato district has higher rates than the national average around sudden infant death syndrome (SUDI) which is largely attributed to smoking in pregnancy and in early childhood.
Mr Tamatea acknowledged that smoking is not an easy issue to address but the investment in a Māori approach and investment in kaupapa Māori services was a significant component to the way forward.
“Smoking affects the entire whānau as well as the person who smokes,” he said. “It contributes to the death of adults but also our tamariki and our pepi.”
Mr Tamatea said that while smoking rates for Māori remain relatively high compared to the rest of the population, there are encouraging signs that the number of Māori smoking overall is decreasing. “This especially so for our rangatahi (youth) and this is a trend we must continue to build upon.”
The Quit Coach training included a big picture overview of the impact on tobacco use on Māori from long time advocate against the tobacco industry Shane Bradbrook, followed by training on how staff can gain access to Nicotine Replacement Therapy for whānau who want to stop smoking.
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