Poverty is the root cause of respiratory problems developing in Maori children. In 2015 305,000 Aotearoan children were living in poverty, 33% of which were Maori. Children are usually affected more than any other members of a household stricken by poverty. They are the most vulnerable to illnesses and often do contract many different ailments.
Maori children have been subjected to poverty for many generations. The exploitation of Maori’s began after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. Discrimination and ill-treatment have continued to be a challenge Maori people have faced through to present day. As European settlers gained land and wealth, the Maori people began to lose their assets and culture.
Maori people had to sell their land to the government at extremely low prices. The government then sold it on to European settlers for a large profit. This method conflicted with what the Maori people believed they had signed on the treaty. It also meant Maori families lost their land, and the profit that should have come with it.
The economic divide between European settlers and the Maori people has only increased over time. Maori people were cheated out of their land and the proper amount of money it was worth. This exploitation and discrimination towards Maori people has continued. Racism and popular stereotypes held by Europeans towards Maori also segregated unity between the two cultures and meant the European views towards helping Maori were usually cold.
In recent years poverty in Maori families has affected housing conditions that children grow up in and the ability for parents to meet their children’s needs. Proper housing and health care is essential if Aotearoa is to break the cycle of poverty that has existed since 1840.
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