Whāia Te Ao Mārama literally translated means pursuing the world of enlightenment. It is an apt title for this document, which outlines a pathway towards supporting Māori with disabilities to achieve overall wellbeing, and bringing both them and our communities into a place of shared understanding and action.
Culture is an important component of our overall wellbeing, and providing culturally specific action plans such as this recognises the diverse contexts from which we all come, and the unique responses that are required to address the needs of the Māori disabled community.
One in five Māori are living with some sort of disability, and this represents a large proportion of our whānau, hapū and iwi. Each of these whānau will have different expectations and needs in terms of their health and wellbeing, although all tangata whenua have shared values and beliefs that underpin our respective aspirations.
This action plan provides a strong foundation and a clear direction for providing the support that Māori disabled people and their whānau require. It also outlines key principles that those of us working within the disability support sector need to acknowledge. In developing this action plan, we hope that we have created a resource which weaves us closer together as communities who are respectful and supportive of diversity.
This action plan was developed by Māori disabled people, their whānau, and those who work in the disability support sector; with support from the Ministry of Health. The collaborative approach used to bring this plan together outlines the importance that we place on bringing key stakeholders, particularly those who live with disabilities, into the process of developing shared solutions, and responses.
Helen Keller once said, ‘No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.’
This Māori Disability Action Plan operates from an attitude of optimism – it is essentially encouraging us all to dare to be powerful, to operate from a position of strength. Our strength is inherent in our whakapapa; in whakawhanaungatanga; in our kaupapa, our tikanga.
Knowing our collective strength helps us to move us closer towards Te Ao Mārama and closer towards reaching a shared awareness about the needs of Māori disabled people.
Tikanga, after all, is about doing the right thing, at the right time for the right reason, and this is the essence that has been captured in this action plan.
Tēnā koutou katoa
Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health