HE KAI ATA RAU:
Māori strengths-based approaches to ending HIV-related stigma and discrimination
In July 2016, a collaboration of NGOs involved in HIV treatment, prevention and support services will be hosting a 2-day conference focused on decreasing HIV-related stigma and discrimination experienced by Māori and their whānau, living with and at risk of HIV.
He Kai Ata Rau – The dawn of nourishment and achievement
The conference name comes from the whakatauki ‘He tāwhara, kai ata rau, he tauwhironga, he tau āriki te tau’. The whakatauki, in the context of the conference, refers to the achievements that await us as we move, together, into a season of prosperity and fulfilment.
The conference is aimed at celebrating the strength, knowledge and potential in Māori communities to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
Māori living with HIV face stigma and discrimination
Far too many Māori and whānau are exposed to HIV-related stigma and discrimination. People we have spoken to have told us they have experienced physical abuse, verbal abuse, social distancing and exclusion as a consequence of their own HIV status, or their communities’ perception of their HIV risk. HIV-related stigma and discrimination isolates Māori from each other, weakens whanaungatanga, increases the risk of depression, suicide, self-harm and poor decision-making around safer-sex, and also reduces the uptake of HIV testing and treatment. Stigma and discrimination undermines core Māori values and principles.
Whānau and friends also face discrimination
It is not only Māori living with HIV or at risk of HIV who are affected; their whānau and friends are also subjected to stigma and discrimination. This means the number of people experiencing HIV-related stigma will be much larger than the 232 Maori men, women and children diagnosed with HIV since 1996, when ethnicity started being recorded. Added to this are Māori who are potentially at risk of HIV; that is approximately 8000 Māori men who have sex with men (MSM), and between 49 and 1,120 Māori who identify as transgender. In addition, a third of sex workers identify as Maori. Sex workers are a significant population in the context of stigma and discrimination.
Who is the conference for?
If you are a teacher, social worker, nurse, youth worker, researcher, policy maker, iwi development officer or you work in any position that engages Māori communities, then this conference is for you. There’s a high chance that you will have Māori students, families, patients, rangatahi, hapū, whānau members and friends who already experience HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
Conference programme and presentations
He Kai Ata Rau Conference attendees will receive a toolkit of Māori strengths-based strategies for use in schools, workplaces, marae, sports clubs and other community settings to help end HIV-related stigma and discrimination. We have an excellent programme of Maori speakers. There will also be an international Indigenous panel and, all together, these experts will share a wealth of lived experiences and involvement in Māori and Indigenous HIV-related prevention, sexual and reproductive health promotion, and research.
Presentations will focus on Stigma in Employment, Stigma in Education, Stigma in Pregnancy, Stigma in Healthcare and, Stigma in Whānau. These presentation streams will provide the opportunity for attendees to hear about experiences, discuss issues, and share solutions.
Apply for a registration scholarship
The conference has a number of free registration scholarships. Scholarship applications and registrations open in November 2015. Please check the websites for the New Zealand Sexual Health Society, New Zealand AIDS Foundation, Body Positive, Positive Women Inc., INA (Māori, Indigenous & South Pacific) HIV and AIDS Foundation, and Te Whāriki Takapou (formerly Te Puāwai Tapu) for details.
We invite you to celebrate the strength, knowledge and potential of our Māori way of life as we work to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination in Māori communities.
Thanks to Dr. Peter Saxton and Jane Bruning for peer-reviewing this article