Apr 18, 2021


Maori News & Indigenous Views

Maori Man Flu

3 min read

No one likes to get sick and now that winter is upon us, many whanau will find themselves feeling unwell – coughs, fevers, congestion, aches and pains. No one is immune to getting sick but it does seem that if a Maori male is taken ill, or as others have called it, catches Man Flu, we can expect little sympathy. Actually, we will probably be mocked. While this can be funny, it also hides some of the real problems lying beneath the surface.

This weekend we buried a bro who started with the flu which then rapidly deteriorated into pneumonia. At first we heard that his mild fever had gotten worse but that he didn’t think it important enough to get it checked by the doctor. No one ever does. Take a pill, drink a lemsip, have some chicken soup and you’ll be sweet. Overthe following days, his flu got worse, with pneumonia settling into his body, working its way into his lungs. Then came the complications: too much fluid on his lungs, his diabetes flared up, dehydration set in. By this stage, his whanau decided to take our bro into the hospital where he was closely monitored and put onto an IV drip. He initially improved but then took a turn, with his organs slowly shutting down and switching off. A week later, our bro had passed away.

Everyone was shocked.

But then, I too had been sick and yet all around me, whanau were telling me to get hard, to take a pill of concrete and harden the f up. I know they were just joking but if everyone is giving this type of korero, is it any wonder that Maori men do become reluctant to seek medical advice?

Being told to man up and shake off your sickness does little to boost confidence let alone heal a person. Instead it makes you withdraw further until you either pull through or ultimately, let go. Stunningly shocking.

So, over the next few weeks, I want to focus on issues surrounding haoura – health, fitness and wellbeing – especially for us Maori men because we honestly and sincerely do need help. While it might be funny to call out Man Flu as nothing more than a bro not being able to handle the jandal, some of us now understand the fatal consequences of not seeking medical help. I don’t want to make light of illness so will look to post information and advice to support you and your whanau.

At the same time whanau, you can have your jokes but please realise sometimes, you need to directly intervene and make sure each other is ok. Get the right support and the best medication because leaving it too long could have tragic consequences.

To end, I just want to bow my head in sadness as this bro was always at the marae, loved learning and teaching us young ones. I know he did not deserve to die this way so want to ensure that no other whanau experiences this type of pain.

Moe mai ra my bro. We will always remember you.

2 thoughts on “Maori Man Flu

  1. Ae Potaua , I’m really glad to see you writing this. Sometimes we have wahine trying to come in for medicine for their tane because they have had to go to mahi while they are unwell or have been too sick or scared to come to the doctor.

    Our cousin Pikiao did go to the doctor but he didn’t respond to his pills and finally became too unwell to cope at home. We asked the pae to relay during his tangi exactly what you have discussed. Go to the doctor if things don’t get better after a few days and go back again if you need to.

    While I’m here, make sure you guys get your checks done regularly too because we have all now experienced whanau and close mates passing away needlessly from heart attacks and diabetes.

    Our tane are too valuable to the whanau for them to be lost because of shyness or being staunch or them worrying about what their whanau might tease them about. And whanau, we probably do need to support our tane better – they aren’t too good with using their taringa as Natalie says.

  2. This is totally true – I guess the hoha thing for us wahine is that we put up with the moans and groans of “Man Flu” and often we do try to push our tane to go to Docs/Hospital to get checked and more often then not, they have kore taringas!!! So after a while, you do tend to get sick of the moaning about being sick, especially if our tane won’t get seen. Perhaps the lesson here is that we need to just make the appointment and tell them it’s already done and that they HAVE to go!! Ka aroha ki tou whanau e hoa.

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