University of Otago PhD student Anna Gosling's research has added to evidence that Maori suffered from gout in pre-European times. Photo by Linda Robertson.
University of Otago research has further dispelled the myth
Maori were not afflicted with gout in pre-European times.
By researching historic newspapers and records of
missionaries, early physicians and accounts by Captain James
Cook and his crew, PhD student Anna Gosling has found
evidence Maori already suffered from gout around the time of
This supported previous research based on the discovery of
early Maori skeletal remains showing tell-tale signs of gout
and further dispelled the myth that the disease was largely
an upper-class European affliction, which did not affect any
''Most of the papers discussing gout in Maori talk about gout
as if it is a disease primarily related to transitions to
modern lifestyles and the adoption of a westernised diet such
as soft drinks, alcohol and highly processed foods,'' Ms
Gout had long been perceived as a disease of the aristocracy,
a disease of affluence and sumptuous lifestyles, she said.
Her research and the earlier study showed genetic factors
played a significant role and probably meant that Maori
suffered from gout well before the first European contact.
''While lifestyle, particularly diet, can contribute to the
likelihood of developing gout, there is also a genetic
component, which seems particularly strong among Maori and
''This is something which both the clinicians, who treat
gout, and the sufferers of gout, should be aware of.''
The latest data showed that 7.7% of Maori and 8.6% of Pacific
Islanders living in New Zealand suffered from gout, compared
to 2.3% of New Zealand Europeans.