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Decolonising Pandemic Responses in Aoteaora New Zealand

4 months
Approved budget:
Mr Thomas Swinburn
Dr Sarah-Jane Paine
Proposal type:
Ethics Summer Studentships
Lay summary
Numerous health and economic challenges have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting a swift, universalist response from the government of New Zealand. Its actions have largely been praised both domestically and internationally for stemming an outbreak of a magnitude observed in other countries. It is now imperative that we pause to reflect and scrutinise the responses and measures, often made in urgency, to date, and assess their impact on and danger to Māori. We propose two parts to our project. Firstly, we will seek to understand the ethical issues raised by Indigenous Peoples, and how different governments across the world have factored these realities into their pandemic responses. We will apply these findings to critically analyse two of our current government’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Enacting change is an important goal for our research team. Therefore, we will then use a decolonising ethical framework grounded in Māori ethics — which can be conceptualised as the ideologies and values underpinning tikanga Māori — to make recommendations as to how these government responses could be improved to better centralise Māori realities. This proposal aligns strongly with many of the approved topics for this studentship. Fundamentally, this project will consider how health equity can be achieved for Māori with the wider goal of exploring how COVID-19 might provide an opportunity to exemplify an equity-driven response rather than yet another catalyst for health disparities. Naturally, ethical issues arising from health strategy, infectious diseases, and resource allocation in a pandemic will be encountered and furthermore a Māori ethical response to some of these challenges will be proposed. Additionally, depending on the specific responses analysed — for instance bluetooth-enabled contact tracing — the ethics around data sharing may form part of this discussion.