The Impacts of Gambling For Māori Families and Communities: A Strengths-Based Approach to Achieving Whānau Ora

Published online: 
15 January 2015

Research organisation: Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa
Primary contact: Dr Michelle Levy

Summary of project/aims


The prevalence of problem gambling in Māori communities is approximately three to four times higher than the general New Zealand population. This inequity has persisted for over two decades and recent quantitative evidence from the National Gambling Study (Abbott et al, 2015) indicates that such problems will persist or even worsen unless more effective ways are found to address them.


The overall aim of this qualitative study was to improve understanding of the impacts of gambling on the health and wellbeing of Māori whānau and communities, within the context of whānau ora. Specifically located within a framework which seeks to support the Māori aspirations, it is intended that the outcomes of this research will inform the development of strengths-based approaches to whānau ora as an intervention strategy for problem gambling.

Key findings

  • Gambling had significant harmful effects on the cohesion, cultural identity, and financial stability of Māori families. This included for example, not being able to provide the basic necessities such as food or clothes, lying and secrecy around spending money on gambling, and children waiting outside gambling venues for their parents.
  • Electronic gaming machines, in particular, were identified as having an isolating effect on Māori from families and the community. This was in contrast to older forms of gambling such as housie which facilitated social connectedness and whānau inclusiveness.
  • There were fundraising benefits to Māori communities from some types of gambling (eg, housie, card games, raffles). However these benefits were very limited and it was unclear whether Māori organisations had equitable access to community funding from the gambling industry.
  • Motivations for engaging in gambling included using it as an emotional relief from stress and daily pressures, as a means to address immediate financial problems, as a source of enjoyment, and stemmed from intergenerational family patterns.
  • The impacts of gambling on Māori are best understood within a wider historical, socio-economic, and cultural context that includes a focus on whānau ora and communities.

Publishing information

  • Date of publication:
    15 January 2015
  • Ordering information:
    Only soft copy available to download
  • Copyright status:

    Third-party content. Please check the document or email the Web Manager to find out how to obtain permission to re-use content.

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