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Māori and Medications: What happens when the pills go home?

Linda Waimarie Nikora, Darrin Hodgetts, Teah Carlson, Mohi Rua


Chronic illnesses are a feature of many Māori homescapes. These illnesses are often managed at home through the use of health technologies, particularly medications. This article explores the meanings given to medications and the use of this health technology in four Māori households. We use a range of qualitative methods to engage with householders and to document how medications are acculturated into Māori homescapes and everyday lives. From our discussions with householders about the procurement, storage, emplacement and administration of medications emerged five culturally patterned orientations to treating with medications. They are: 1) storage and administration practices that corresponded with the Māori hygiene practices of tapu (prohibited) and noa (permitted); 2) reminder strategies, orngā pūrere whakamāharahara; 3) the enactmentof the value of manaakitanga (kindness)in care relationships; 4) pōharatanga, or attitudestowards medication procurement andadministration in households textured by lowsocio-economic status; and 5) rangatiratanga, the right of people to manage and make decisionsabout their own lives and health status. This study presents a view of how medications are acculturated into Māori homescapes, relationships and daily routines. The use of health technologies by health professionals to interrupt illness and improve quality of life must be cognisant of the cultural contexts into whichmedications are prescribed.

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Print ISSN 1177-1801 Online ISSN 1174-1740