The biopolitics of Māori biomass: towards a new epistemology for Māori health in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Warbrick, I
Dickson, A
Prince, R
Heke, I
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Journal Article
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Taylor & Francis

In this paper we consider what impact a biopolitics that creates a compliant self-governing weight-focused population has had on Māori health in Aotearoa/New Zealand. We frame this discussion with three vignettes that in different ways demonstrate the deleterious effects of the individualisation of health on Māori. We argue that the current biopolitics is best explained as ‘the health of Maoris’ not ‘Māori Health’. To counter this current biopolitics we put forward an alternative epistemology, the ‘Atua Matua’ framework. This epistemology pays respect to a Māori view of health that is holistic, encompassing physical, emotional, spiritual, cultural and familial well-being and does not give ground to the requirement for individualism so prevalent in neoliberalism. Finally, we consider what this new epistemology might offer to the public health agendas in Aotearoa and other countries where indigenous populations suffer ill health disproportionately. Thus, our implications have potential not only for Māori health but human health in general.

Healthy public policy; Health promotion; Indigenous people
Critical Public Health, DOI: 10.1080/09581596.2015.1096013
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