Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 14 Issue 6 (November/December 2004), Pages 411-510

Media coverage of ‘decades of disparity’ in ethnic mortality in Aotearoa (pages 455-472)


For some time we have known that factors such as economic prosperity, community cohesion, and social justice bear on health. These societal influences are particularly pertinent to the health of indigenous groups, such as Maori, who are still responding to processes of colonization. In July 2003 the New Zealand Ministry of Health published a report entitled ‘Decades of Disparity’, which proposed (among other things) that neoliberal policies of the last two decades impacted negatively on mortality rates for Maori and Pacific peoples, when compared with Pakeha. In this article we explore media coverage of this report through analyses of media releases, radio, television and newspaper items. It is argued that as the story evolved media increasingly challenged the importance of societal determinants of health, preferring individual level explanations. As a result coverage failed to give due emphasis to structural health concerns for Maori, which necessitate social change. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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