Story: Māori smoking, alcohol and drugs – tūpeka, waipiro me te tarukino

Drug use by ethnicity and age of first use

Drug use by ethnicity and age of first use

These graphs, based on data from a large Ministry of Health study in 2007–8, explain two aspects of drug use. The first graph compares the age at which Māori and non-Māori first used drugs for recreational purposes. The second shows the estimated rate of use among Māori and non-Māori of marijuana, BZP party pills, amphetamines and solvents.

The second diagram needs to be read with some caution, as differences in the age structure of ethnic groups affects their rate of use. The Māori population has a high number of people in their teens and 20s, when drug use peaks. This is one reason why Māori have a higher overall rate of use compared with the European population, which includes more older people. If the groups' age structure was standardised, the difference between the populations would diminish. Nor does a higher rate of use mean that a greater number of people in total are using a drug. In the case of solvents, Māori use as a percentage of the total Māori population is greater than that of Pākehā. But the study estimated that 5,900 Māori used solvents, while 24,300 Pākehā did.

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How to cite this page:

Megan Cook, 'Māori smoking, alcohol and drugs – tūpeka, waipiro me te tarukino - Māori use of drugs', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 8 May 2021)

Story by Megan Cook, published 5 Sep 2013