New respiratory disease 2018 impact report figures, sparks Te Reo Māori educational asthma show to launch in Rotorua 

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ today, 5 March 2019, launches its new children’s Te Reo Māori educational asthma show and Te Reo Māori action plan resources, following the results of the latest 2018 impact report.                                 

The report titled The Impact of Respiratory Disease in New Zealand: 2018 Update, funded by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ, reports that Māori mortality rates remain the highest of all ethnic groups for overall respiratory disease, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The report is produced every two years in conjunction with Otago University. 

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ, Chief Cultural Advisor - Māori, Sir John Clarke says: “Māori are almost 3 times more likely to be hospitalised for asthma, and it’s our tamariki under the age of 15 that are affected by this the most. These new educational tools released by the Foundation can’t come soon enough and shows their commitment to Māori health.” 

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ is launching its brand-new Sailor the Puffer Fish children’s puppet show which will be presented to Māori immersion schools in Te Reo Māori by presenter Hinerongonui Kingi. The show educates children and their teachers about asthma triggers, how to manage asthma and what to do in an asthma emergency. It is the very first asthma show in Te Reo Māori in New Zealand.  

Hinerongonui comments: “He tino whakahirahira ki te whakaako ki ō tātou tamariki me ō tātou kaiako e pā ana ki te mate huangō. Ko te hauora pai te tino kaupapa kia ora pai ai tātou. E harikoa ana au ki te whakaatu atu kia koutou i te whakaaturanga mate huangō nei ki ō tātou Kura Kaupapa Māori i tēnei tau.”  
Translated to English: “It is important we teach our tamariki and teachers about asthma. Our health is a number one priority in living a productive and active life. I look forward to sharing the asthma show to our Kura Kaupapa Māori schools this year.”  

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ, Chief Executive, Letitia Harding says: “A key strategic goal of the Foundation is to improve Māori respiratory health outcomes. The impact report recommends that urgent new and targeted programmes are needed to reduce the severe ethnic and socio-economic inequalities in respiratory disease. As leaders in respiratory health built on over 50 years of knowledge, we are in the best position to do this.” 

Letitia continues, “Even though we receive no financial support from government, we were able to produce these groundbreaking resources which have the overall aim of reducing inequalities in respiratory health.”  

Teresa Demetriou, Head of Education and Research at the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ says: “Educational programmes like the Sailor the Puffer Fish show in Te Reo Māori are great tools and shows that we are heading in the right direction in terms of respiratory education, but more still needs to be done. This is the very first asthma show in Te Reo Māori in New Zealand and will launch in Rotorua this month. It comes at a great time given the latest research figures in the Impact Report.” 

In response to the latest findings, Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ has also translated the Child and Adult Asthma Action Plans and COPD Action Plan into Te Reo Māori. The translations aim to improve respiratory health and management within the Māori community. 

Teresa continues “We hope to see positive outcomes from these culturally sensitive and targeted resources that aim to fill a gap in respiratory disease management in the current New Zealand health system.” 

Asthma mortality rates, which appeared to be declining in the 2016 report, have returned to previous higher levels, peaking at 2.0 deaths per 100,000 in 2014. These were highest in the Mid Central DHB (fig 22.) followed by Northland and Lakes, and lowest in West Coast and South Canterbury DHBs.   

Research shows Māori respiratory hospitalisation rates were 2.0 times higher than non-Māori, Pacific and Asian peoples (non-MPA).  Bronchiectasis hospitalisation rate also increased by a significant 45% over the study period and mortality rates increased by 88%.  

The impact report shows that the high concentration of respiratory disease in Lakes DHB and Tairawhiti DHB: in Māori and Pacific peoples: and in the most socio-economically deprived neighbourhoods, suggest that targeted programmes could be effective in reducing not only inequalities, but also overall rates of respiratory disease. 

Letitia continues, “Every time I meet with Ministry of Health officials they are very impressed with our commitment to improving Māori respiratory health, our resources and our national networks. It’s just a shame they are continually saying there is no money in the budget to fund us –  that maybe next year it will happen. Less talk and more support, would be good.”  

For more information visit 
The report is launched today and is available on the website here