Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 25 (December 1958)
– 63 –


I wonder if you ever think why so many Maori babies and children suffer from sores, discharging ears, and other septic troubles. There are two main reasons. The first is that Maori children have little resistance to the germs. The second thing is they do not take enough care.

These conditions are preventable but it means taking trouble. Most of the sores are highly infectious and can be passed from one child to another by actual contact or more commonly by using clothing or towels which belong to other children. Scratching the skin with dirty hands or rubbing a dirty surface may cause a sore to develop.

What is much more serious, however, is the occurrence of discharging ears, even in young babies. It seems that Maori children are very liable to coughs and colds, and these, if left untreated, or not looked after properly lead to infection spreading from the throat to the ears. When this happens the child gets a lot of pain in the ear, cries, and if old enough complains of earache. Young babies cry, and touch their ears and often roll their heads about. Eventually, the ear drum bursts and there is a discharge of bloodstained or watery matter from the ear, and the pain stops. Mother then thinks that all is well and takes no notice of the discharge. But now is the danger time. Fresh infections can follow one another rapidly and gradually the whole interior part of the ear becomes destroyed. Then you have a deaf child! If this happens before the child has learned to