Friday April 20, 2018   Last updated 01:27AM
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Polynesian genetics should affect health policy

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Victoria University researchers have drawn a link between the 5000 year history of Polynesian migration and Maori and Pasifika health today.

Conclusions from the 25-year study led by Geoff Chambers from the School of Biological Sciences are set to be published in four international academic journals.

The first paper in the Global Journal of Anthropology Research provides what he says is the only complete description of the origins of Polynesian peoples, their complex ancestry, and how genetic variation was lost as people migrated across the Pacific.

Another paper explores how these ancient migration events caused the gene pools of Maori and Pasifika people to diverge markedly from Europeans, and explains why this has significant medical implications for New Zealand.

The genetic distinction explains why Maori or Pacific Islanders are more prone to certain diseases than people of European descent, which means New Zealand needs to take a special, ethnic view of medicine for its health system to be effective and equitable.

A jointly-written paper that will appear in New Zealand Sociology argues that the official data collected on ethnicity is deficient, because people may identify as Maori even though they have a relatively small percentage of Maori genes.
 

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