PROSTABLOG NZ: A chance meeting between two Maori men may affect the future well-being of 135 males living on the Chatham Islands.
The meeting has led to a NZ Prostate Cancer Foundation-funded initiative, which will soon see the island’s over-40 male population offered health checks and prostate cancer screening tests.
More than half the island males have Maori and Moriori ancestry, and while they have no proven genetic pre-disposition, statistics show they are less likely to be diagnosed early, and suffer a death rate after diagnosis that is twice that for non-Maori.
Earlier this year, the Foundation helped Kapiti Coast man Dene Ainsworth get to Blenheim to attend Tane Ora, the first-ever Maori men’s health conference, so he could make a presentation.
One person who heard him was Joe Tapara, a representative of the Chatham Islands Māori Community Health.
Later, the pair talked about men’s health in general, and prostate cancer in particular, and Joe reckoned a talk along the lines of Dene’s presentation was needed on the Chathams.
“I agreed that Chatham Islands men should have same access and opportunity to these sorts of presentations as ‘mainland’ New Zealanders,” says Dene (Te Ati Awa), who is a prostate cancer survivor and now a member of the PCF Board.
He put the idea of a Chathams visit to the PCF in August and it was approved for the last weekend in September.
Dene will be accompanied by Napier urologist Dave Mason, who is donating his time and insists on paying his own travel costs, and who will offer free health checks to those men who want them.
The two will work with island health workers, and will be guided by their advice about the island’s needs.
According to the last census (2006), the 10-island Chatham Islands group (800 kilometres east of New Zealand) has a population of 609, whose ethnic origins are European (66%), Maori (57%) and Moriori (the first settlers).
Some 22% of the population (135) are men 40-plus, the milestone age when prostate cancer risks begin to rise.
The main island, Chatham, has a hospital and resident doctor, but no ready access to a specialist like Dave.
The islands are connected to NZ by regular air service, but fares cost many hundreds of dollars.
Also covering the three days – checkups by Dave and four presentations by Dene – will be Whitireia Journalism School student Carl Suurmond (Tainui), who will shoot video and still photos, and write articles.
Dene is Business Manager for a research and policy company, Mauriora-ki-te-Ao/Living Universe Ltd, which offers products and services that concern the development and communication of ideas, particularly as they relate to the creative potential of Māori knowledge, people and resources.
Dene: “Nō Waitara ahau, engari inaianei e noho ana ahau ki Ōtaki. Ānei toku pepeha: Ko tokomaru te waka, ko Taranaki te Maunga, ko Waitara te Awa, ko Te Āti Awa te iwi, ko Ngāti Rahiri te hapu, ko Owae te marae.
“I come from Waitara and am currently living in Otaki. I whakapapa to Te Āti Awa iwi and the hapu of Ngāti Rahiri and my turangawaewae (home place to stand) is Owae marae in Waitara.