The National Māori rōpu, Tupeka Kore, congratulate Minister Verrall and the Government’s Smokefree Plan that will have a huge impact on smoking in Aotearoa.

This plan comes a decade after the Government announced its commitment to the Smokefree 2025 goal and 15 years after Māori first advocated for a Tupeka Kore (tobacco/nicotine free) Aotearoa.

The rōpu would like to recognise the leadership of the Māori Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the harm caused to Māori by tobacco in 2010. This very much laid the foundations for the plan we have today.

Takiri Mai te Ata Regional Stop Smoking Service Regional Manager, Catherine Manning says, "The inquiry put a line in the sand about what must be done to address the harm tobacco causes to our communities."

A decade on from the inquiry, Māori working towards a Tupeka Kore goal are as committed as ever. With the support of Minister Verrall, the optimism and energy is high to now realise a Smokefree Future.

The question is what change can whānau expect in this new plan? To date, the approach to reduce smoking rates for New Zealanders has been based on international best practice. While these approaches have had significant effect on overall smoking prevalence, change has been slow and smoking disparities persist. In particular smoking rates for Māori and Pacifica remain unacceptably high. Māori have been calling for Te Tiriti o Waitangi famed approaches to eliminate tobacco harm for the past two decades, and hope that this action plan is the next step in our hikoi to enable the aspirations of many to be achieved.

The success of the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan will require Government and Māori to work together and it will require effective leadership at all levels. T&T Consulting Ltd Director and 2019 recipient of the Dame Tariana Turia Award for her contribution to Māori Tobacco Control, Sue Taylor says "we are ready to support the Government with the expertise and resources that we have to achieve this goal together." It is apparent that some of the strategies to prevent uptake of big tobacco products currently on offer, specifically expensive campaigns and promotion of less harmful products, are not long term solutions for Māori.

"Innovative strategies that are whānau ora centric that enable whānau to be part of the solutions opposed to being perceived as the problem, are needed and the Smokefree 2025 plan embodies that notion," says Taylor.

Hāpai Te Hauora Chief Executive Officer, Selah Hart welcomes the plan launched today and says, "Together we will add to the work of the Tupeka Kore champions who were here before us and fought hard to eliminate the harm caused by Tobacco products. Let us not forget all those who have passed away since the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 goal was set. Five thousand people a year die from smoking related illnesses, many of which are whānau and we owe it to them to get it right, to persevere and eliminate smoking from our future."