National Political Representation and Health Inequalities in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Could a Pacific Woman be our Obama?

Jennifer Hand
Nicole Sheridan

From a South Pacific perspective, we see the Obama presidency as a symbol of optimism for public engagement and grassroots movements, and as a model for new-found power for marginalised peoples. New Zealand shares in the global issues of political representation and accountability, growing economic and social inequalities, and increasing rates of chronic disease. We will describe the history and current situation of national political representation and discuss major current social and health issues. The discussion is illustrated by a case study and verbatim quotes from people with chronic disease, drawn from research on consumer perspectives on the services provided by the health system in one New Zealand city. We conclude by advocating for community organising and empowerment, resulting in many Obamas supporting the social and economic policies necessary to address the inequalities we hold to be fundamental to current social and health crises. Given the racial, social, and political context of Aotearoa/New Zealand, yes, our Obama could be a Pacific woman.

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Research Type(s)
Journal Article
Submitted by Toksave
March 22, 2021
Published in
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