Today Hāpai Te Hauora’s Māori Public Health Team launches "Tobacco is Not Our whakapapa" a series of video clips which seeks to re-center whakapapa in the narrative of tobacco harm minimisation.
The first ‘Tobacco Not Our Whakapapa’ clip focusses on highlighting the whakapapa of the tobacco plant itself and bringing awareness to its highly spiritual and cultural significance to many indigenous people of North & South America. Part of this project is focussed on recognising that the tobacco plant does have a whakapapa, and it is not in ours. Selah Hart, CEO of Hāpai, says that it is a key part of the healing process to acknowledge that the first encounter with smoking for Māori was with the arrival of colonisation.
"It is imperative to move away from quit-smoking narratives that do not empower our whānau. We have to look broader and consider connections to the ongoing lived impacts of colonisation in our communities and instead focus on strengths-based approaches. Part of this is looking to whakapapa, and actually returning these traditional medicines back to other indigenous nations whose practices have been exploited through colonization, ".
Hāpai Te Hauora’s Janell Dymus-Kurei, Manager of Māori Public Health highlights the need to engage communities in a conversation about the whakapapa of tobacco, and to formally recognize the role that the tobacco industry plays in exploiting and manipulating vulnerable communities. "This campaign is informative for whānau, and whilst it asks of us to reflect on our relationship with harmful substances such as tobacco, it also places the burden of responsibility where it belongs - on the shoulders of tobacco companies, and not with our communities who have been subjected to such systemic harms". Dymus continues "These profit driven industries have for too long benefited from the destruction of indigenous nations globally. This project is about protecting our whakapapa, and we believe it is time to re-write the narrative for our future generations".
This launch of this campaign comes as 2018/19 New Zealand Health Survey results highlight continued disparity in smoking rates for Māori. Hart says "Despite the decrease over time in smoking rates for Māori adults, the numbers aren’t moving fast enough, particularly not for Māori. This demonstrates that we need to try different approaches to get different results, and that’s exactly what we’re doing with "Tobacco is not our Whakapapa"
You can view the first video in the series here ( https://www.facebook.com/hapaitehauora/videos/2657949897581867/ )