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

TitleMāori and medications: What happens when the pills go home?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsNikora, L. W., Hodgetts D., Carlson T., & Rua M.
JournalAlternative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples
Start Page87

Chronic illnesses are a feature of many Maori 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 Maori households. We use a range of qualitative methods to engage with householders and to document how medications are acculturated into Maori 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 Maori hygiene practices of tapu (prohibited) and noa (permitted); 2) reminder strategies, or nga purere whakamaharahara; 3) the enactment of the value of manaakitanga (kindness) in care relationships; 4) poharatanga, or attitudes towards medication procurement and administration in households textured by low socio-economic status; and 5) rangatiratanga, the right of people to manage and make decisions about their own lives and health status. This study presents a view of how medications are acculturated into Maori 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 which medications are prescribed.