Friday April 20, 2018   Last updated 01:33AM
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Historical trauma behind high suicide stats

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An expert in indigenous suicide says the crown was told 30 years ago of the links between colonisation and Maori suicide and chose to ignore it.

Otago University academic Keri Lawson-Te Aho is part of the kaupapa claim before the Waitangi Tribunal, challenging the crown’s response to the issue.

She says historical trauma is evident in every indigenous group that has undergone colonisation and its manifests in the form of high suicide rates, addiction, imprisonment, the number of children in stranger care and other negative indicators.

She says Maori working in the field first called for action in the 1980s but were brushed off.

"And I’m saying this because I was there in 1988 saying we have to do something about Maori youth suicide. We were told youth suicide is a youth issue and there are no particular impacts for Maori over and above any other young person in this nation and we were told that by the then Ministry for Youth Affairs," Dr Lawson-Te Aho says.

She says colonisation disconnects whanau from their whakapapa, their land, their cultural knowledge and their language, adding up to massive historical trauma.

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