September 18, 2012
Huffing craze hitting Maori hard
Maori communities are being urged to tackle the problem of their rangatahi huffing, or inhaling substances like butane.
Chief coroner Neil MacLean has released a report showing 63 people have died from huffing over the past 12 years, including 30 Maori.
Dr Nick Baker, the chair of the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee, says it will require action on the supply side, making it harder for young people to buy substances to inhale, and on the demand site, discouraging rangatahi from trying it out.
"There are some questions the Maori community can turn back on itself around the demand and the culture and how do we get this out of young people’s vocabulary. It’s not just the Maori community, its other communities as well, but it does seem to focus on people living in more deprived circumstances," he says.
Dr Baker says a similar problem with petrol sniffing in Australia’s Northern Territory was eventually countered by changing the composition of petrol so it would not have the same consciousness-altering effect.