National | Health

Blues lend support to free health checks at home games as poor Māori health stats remain below Pākehā

New research from health insurer, nib New Zealand, has revealed that Māori are more likely to perceive their health as poor and are more concerned about their future health than their Pākehā counterparts.

The survey of 1000 people conducted between December 1-11 last year found that almost half of Kiwis (47 per cent) are behind on their general health checks yet the majority believe their current health is in good shape.

Almost one in five Kiwis don’t believe, or are unsure if an annual general health screening is necessary. Some respondents were not up to date or had never received important health screenings like dental checks (63 per cent) and eye checks (55 per cent).

When it came to more serious health screenings, 84 per cent of those surveyed are not up to date or have never received skin checks - despite New Zealand having one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world. More worrying and even with national screening programs, eligible Kiwis are still behind in important health screenings such as prostate cancer checks (60 per cent), cervical smears (44 per cent), bowel cancer screenings (37 per cent) and breast cancer screenings (28 per cent).

Some reported this was a low priority, with one third (34 per cent) saying they aren’t committed to staying up to date with their health screening checks. But health checks are a priority for 71 per cent of Māori compared to only 66 per cent for their Pākehā counterparts.

Differences between Māori and Pākehā perceptions of health

Despite many falling behind in their proactive general health screenings, the majority of respondents perceived their current health to be in good, very good or excellent condition (62 per cent). However, Māori are more likely to perceive their health as poor (57 per cent), compared to Pākehā (40 per cent). Māori are also more concerned about their future health (66 per cent), than their Pākehā counterparts (60 per cent).

Rob McGrath, nib chief medical officer says: “Proactive health checks are the key to catching potential illnesses early. The fact that Māori often feel less healthy than Pākehā, despite being more committed to health screenings, speaks to one of the inequalities we see in the health system when it comes to health outcomes for Māori. It’s important as health professionals that we acknowledge this and make more of an effort to support Māori and support them in their proactive approach to health and wellbeing.

“The discrepancy between Māori people’s concern for their future health while being committed to health screenings highlights the importance of targeted health interventions to bridge this gap, particularly around perceived efficacy and accessibility of preventative care. It’s a call to action for tailored services that resonate with Māori communities so health checks feel more accessible.

“Despite Māori exhibiting commitment to health screenings, motivated by a desire to stay healthy for their children and grandchildren - a motivation less evident in Pākehā - their heightened level of concern about future health warrants a holistic approach to healthcare delivery. This contrast, with more Pākehā participating due to health professional invitations, underscores the need for fostering trust, cultural competence, and proactive encouragement to ensure Māori health needs are adequately met.”

Barriers to getting screened

Uncertainty about which screening checks they need (38 per cent), cost (36 per cent), not experiencing any current health issues of concern (30 per cent) and being anxious about what it could reveal (19 per cent) were among the main barriers stopping people from getting regular health screenings.

The Blues are backing nib’s mission to tackle health issues

The Blues Super rugby team have teamed up with nib to encourage Kiwis to tackle their health issues by being proactive with their health checks and putting the wellbeing of themselves and their whānau top of mind.

Heading into a decade of being the Blues’ principal sponsor and three years of supporting the nib Blues women’s team, nib strives to help to improve positive health outcomes of all Kiwis, which includes wellbeing initiatives with the Blues and using their platform to raise awareness on important health topics with its passionate rugby community.

Blue chief executive Andrew Hore says, “As professional athletes, our players need to be hyper-aware of their physical and mental health so they can stay match fit and receive the support they need.

“Kiwis, especially blokes, are notorious for shrugging off health issues and we hope our players can act as role models and encourage more Kiwis to take control of their health and wellbeing by staying up to date with their proactive health screenings.”

nib has enlisted the help of Kiwi media personality, Jordan Vaha’akolo of The Morning Shift Podcast, to coach some of the Blues and nib Blues players on the importance of tackling your health issues with proactive health checks. Vaha’akolo’s sister and star winger, Katelyn Vaha’akolo, alongside Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Kurt Eklund and Angus Ta’avao, is subjected toVaha’akolo’s antics in the new video, taking a lighter approach to an important health topic.

nib will be offering free general health checks to the Kiwi public with its Check-Up clinic stationed at Blues home games at Eden Park and around Auckland City to make it easier for people to be proactive with their health. Keep an eye on the nib New Zealand social channels to find out where it will be.