News the Lakes District Health Board area has one of the highest rate of respiratory disease has prompted the release of a children's show about asthma in te reo Māori.

Today the New Zealand Asthma and Respiratory Foundation released a report into the Impact of Respiratory Disease in New Zealand which found that Māori mortality rates remain the highest of all ethnic groups for overall respiratory disease, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

This month, it will launch a children's te reo Māori educational asthma show in Rotorua and te reo Māori action plan resources.

The show Sailor the Puffer Fish is a puppet show which will be presented to Māori immersion schools by presenter Hinerongonui Kingi.


The show educates children and their teachers about asthma triggers, how to manage asthma and what to do in an asthma emergency.

Kingi said it was important to teach tamariki about asthma.

"Our health is a number one priority in living a productive and active life. I look forward to sharing the asthma show to our Kura Kaupapa Māori schools this year."

The Impact of Respiratory Disease in New Zealand report is updated every two years. Asthma mortality rates seemed to be declining in the 2016 report but rose again in the 2018 report released today.

The rate was highest in the Mid Central District Health Board followed by Northland and Lakes, and lowest in West Coast and South Canterbury DHBs.

The report showed a high concentration of respiratory disease in Māori and Pacific people and in socio-economically deprived neighbourhoods.

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ, chief executive Letitia O'Dwyer said the foundation aimed to improve Māori respiratory health outcomes and hoped the show would help do that.

"The impact report recommends that urgent new and targeted programmes are needed to reduce the severe ethnic and socio-economic inequalities in respiratory disease."


The foundation's head of education and research Teresa Demetriou said educational programmes like Sailor the Puffer Fish were great tools.

The foundation has also translated the Child and Adult Asthma Action Plans and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Action Plan into te reo.

"We hope to see positive outcomes from these culturally sensitive and targeted resources that aim to fill a gap in respiratory disease management in the current New Zealand health system."

The foundation's chief cultural advisor for Māori Sir John Clarke, said the new educational tools couldn't come soon enough.

"Māori are almost three times more likely to be hospitalised for asthma, and it's our tamariki under the age of 15 that are affected by this the most.

"These new educational tools released by the foundation can't come soon enough and shows their commitment to Māori health."