Culture and Diversity in Healthcare


This paper will discuss and open up about the reality of cultural diversity and equality. There are different factors in which equality can be quantified but this work will focus mainly on the healthcare system of New Zealand. It would show why there are still differences on how to access it even though all people living in this land should have equal rights in benefiting from it. My work would give a little background about the history of New Zealand and its people and would slowly focus to the main topic to be discussed.


The Maoris or Polynesians were one of the first settlers in New Zealand. It was a vast land mass which was rich in natural resources, may it be land or aquatic. The Maori people were strong and brave people. They would put their life on the line to protect their land. They protect it with pride as it was their own child. Different international explorer and crusaders were pretty much common during that era. They would explore new land for commerce, colonize or spread their words. New Zealand was not exempted from these explorers and due to extensive circumnavigating the world, the first Europeans set foot on this land. The Europeans would introduce a different culture and practices. They brought in goods and knowledge. They not only presented new technologies but introduced different type of diseases as well. As years passed by, New Zealand became more advanced and fortunately became a first-world country. New Zealand might be one of the best places to live in but it has its own set of problems as well because of the diverse culture that makes it especially between the Maoris and European settlers.

Traditional Maori Culture and Health Problems

The Maori have a very strong culture involving their traditional way of healing or the Rongoa Maori. This traditional way of healing involves different aspects. They believe in traditional herbal concoctions to be used to cure diseases. They also believe in different massage strokes and strong prayers as other ways in treating ailments. These may not have the detailed scientific background or studies to prove that their methods are effective but this is their culture. This is the way that their ancestors used to overcome their health problems. Their culture should be respected and not to be criticized.

The Maori group of people also believe in their cultural safety or in the local language called Kawa Whararuruhau. This would also be a problem into the access of healthcare because they are sensitive to their life experiences. If one of their family members had a negative experience in the hospital or other healthcare facility, this would leave a stigma to their community. They would be hesitant to approach the healthcare providers and healthcare facilities. That is why healthcare providers should be sensitive to the different cultures that they encounter in their day-to-day activities.

Another Maori concept that would contribute to the problem of fair access to healthcare is Tino Rangatiratanga. This is basically a social concept that they can practice their traditional culture and inculcate it to the local norms. There are certain procedures or practices that healthcare facilities cannot practice because modern hospitals are now following international health standards. Some of the Maoris cannot grasp to accept this and would like to upheave that their customs should be followed because again of the Tino Rangatiratanga social concept. Healthcare providers would have their hands tied regarding this issue because health standards should be followed and this would cause a problem to the traditional Maori culture.

Toanga in the Maori culture means a highly valuable possession. This may be a physical thing or immaterial in nature. This would be a potential problem because the Toanga could be a hinder in the treatment regimen. This could cause a dilemma to the healthcare provider because the culture should be respected while giving the care necessary to the patient. Now the issue about the access to healthcare will come to play because the Maori people may be hesitant to reach out to the healthcare benefits because their culture might be encroached.

There is also a Maori culture that I believe is a positive side to help alleviate the discrepancy to the access of healthcare and that is Manaakitanga. It is basically showing your kindness and hospitality to other people. The healthcare industry should inculcate this into their practice because it will lead to a positive outcome. Even though the majority of their clients are sick or ill, they should show their patients that they are welcome. This will make the patient more comfortable and this would lead to tendency that people are more motived to visit the hospital or healthcare institution to seek for help.

Maoris are genetically big in nature. They have a big and strong physique. Their diet usually consists of meat and vegetables but due to the introduction and increasing popularity of junk food, health problems has been an issues. There are cases of obesity, joint pains and certain heart conditions. Smoking is also a habit that is trying to be prevented as smoking can lead to various kinds of health problems. There are also dental problems with the Maori people. They fail or rarely seek the help of dentist for their dental care.

Access to Healthcare Problems

New Zealand has a good healthcare system. The government divided the whole country into different District Health Boards. I believe that they have done this so that the people can easily access the hospitals in case of emergency and health concerns. Most of the costs of hospitalization are highly subsidized by the government so that it would lessen the burden to the public and promote good health.

I have been in New Zealand working as a healthcare assistant in different hospitals and rest homes. I have been in the front row of being a witness on how the people can access the healthcare benefits provided by the government. I would like to start off by describing the positive and negative side of Maoris and the rest of the New Zealanders from my observation. The majority of the New Zealanders that I have met are well educated and well mannered. They are hard-working group of people and most of them have stable jobs. Their jobs would help them sustain the basic things needed in life like food, clothing and shelter. These people pay taxes that are used by the government to run the country and provide benefits to the people like healthcare. They can also afford different kind of insurances which serves as an assurance that whenever they face a health problem, someone will take care of it for them. The higher earning society can also afford private hospitals and expensive general practitioners or doctors. They can also afford to buy the different medications that are being prescribed to them. The negative side of having all of these much more comfortable accesses to healthcare are the biases and looking down to other sectors of the society. If you have the right resources, you will get the best healthcare services and procedures to keep your body healthy.

The Maori people are good people. Don’t get me wrong but there are also Maoris that have done well for themselves in this country. They are earning good and have a very comfortable life. Again, they are brave and very proud of their culture and family. These are good traits but I would like to point out to the bad traits that some are showing. They believe that they own this land and the rest are just visitors. They are very well supported by the government but they feel that it is still not enough. We can see some on the streets begging for something even though we can observe that they are very capable of doing manual labour. I believe this is what we call of being lazy and proud. There are free services like free education to get a better life but they tend not to use it and just rely on other for their needs. Some Maoris have a job but the pay is not that high. Their income is just enough to survive on a day-to-day basis. This is where the access to healthcare becomes different. While other New Zealanders have an easier access not only to government-funded hospitals but also private ones, some of the Maori people can only depend on the free ones.

Money can be a factor to this problem but I also believe that culture also plays a very important part of the problem. Their culture believes in the traditional way of things and this could hold them back from seeking modern day science-based healthcare system. Their attitude also plays its part. They have a tendency of being stubborn and feel that they can do whatever they want. Now when a health condition occurs and which could not be corrected or improved by the traditional way, money plays a very important role. Yes, they have free benefits from being hospitalized but the maintenance would be a problem for them. The cost of medication can be one of the problems. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also be an issue like for example healthier foods are much more expensive. Also their ability to accept change should be given a thought.

The government is doing their part to give and promote health to everyone. They are developing programs to reach out to people and try to inform them about how to be healthy. The resources are out there but it is up to the people if they want to benefit from this. If they really want to be healthy, the person itself should be responsible for his or her own actions on how to be healthy.

The Barriers Involved

For me, the problem in resolving the issues on the access to healthcare is basically due to the fault of the people themselves. New Zealand’s history also plays a part. Basically, the Maoris think that the Europeans invaded them and that they are trying to get the country from them. They think that the Europeans should provide them everything that they need because they own the land. On the other hand, the government is saying that all are provided and it is up to you to grab the opportunity to benefit from it. The differences in culture, attitudes and beliefs are aspects that I believe are the causes to these problems. If these elements can be resolved and straightened out, the problem can be easily resolved.

Best Practices

We are now living in a modern world. Most of the people are now educated and understands more about the different cultures in the society. New Zealand is giving opportunities to other citizens of the world to come into the country and try to succeed. This move will greatly benefit the country. It will open the doors to understand different culture, religions and practices. It will be a good basis on how to implement future plans for the country that would benefit all of the people. The decisions of the country and its people will be more diplomatic and sensible that everyone can enjoy and benefit from thus preventing disputes not only in the healthcare setting but the total setting of the country.


I therefore conclude that there are different factors that affect the problem about the access to healthcare between the Maori people and other people that occupies New Zealand. Some of the factors may be education, psychosocial, physiologic or socio-economic factors. There are times that these factors cannot be mended but all the efforts are being made to make a country of different cultures work. The Maoris might feel deprived from their rights because of the feeling that their land was taken away from them. It should be explained or to make clear to them that laws are being mandated so that not only their culture is protected but all of the cultures that forms New Zealand. The key thing to resolving problems is learning to understand and compromise.


I would recommend that proper information dissemination should be promoted. Educating the people will help understand the situation of the country’s intention to help its people. This would help the government to set laws and people to understand these laws and how they can benefit from it.


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Ministry of Health – Manatu Hauora (2014)

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Social Justice Commission of the Anglican Church (2015)

. Tino Rangatiratanga. Retrieved from

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