The impact of socio-contextual, physical and life-style variables on measures of physical and psychological well-being among Maori and non-Maori: The New Zealand Health, Work, and Retirement Study
This article provides an overview of the New Zealand Health, Work and Retirement Study (HWR), the focus of which is on determinants of cultural-contextual factors on physical and mental health among 6,662 New Zealand citizens, a nationally representative sample of adults between 55 and 70 years of age. The HWR was initiated in 2006 with two-year re-assessment intervals. The health and well-being of older Māori was a study priority as previous research has shown large health disparities between Māori and Non-Māori in New Zealand. Persons of Māori origin were over sampled to ensure adequate information for subsequent analyses. First wave results indicated that socioeconomic status, social support and retirement status were associated with optimal ageing among older adults in New Zealand. Māori scored lower on markers of physical and mental health, which was partially explained by restrictive factors including reduced economic living standards and a propensity towards less physical activity. After controlling for multiple socio-contextual and biological variables, ethnicity continued to predict health, suggesting that there are other markers of health and well-being in ageing among Māori. Structural variables which restrict access to health care and predispose Māori to engage in maladaptive lifestyle behaviours combined with the distal effects of colonization may contribute to the health disparities found between Māori and the majority population in New Zealand.