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Maori high school students are more likely to binge drink than any other ethnic group in the country, with injuries, unsafe sex and schoolwork problems among the unwanted effects.
While Maori drink less frequently than other ethnic groups, they consume more on the occasions they drink, creating "disproportionately higher levels of alcohol-related harm", an Auckland University study found.
The study analysed data from Youth'07, a 2007 national anonymous health survey of 9107 secondary schools students, 1702 of whom were Maori.
Participants reported a number of problems associated with alcohol use including doing things that could have got them into serious trouble (28 per cent), being injured (27 per cent), having unsafe sex (26 per cent), and having their school or work affected by their alcohol use (14 per cent).
Those who said they binge drink reported the problems happening more frequently.
Researchers found Maori attending secondary school have the highest prevalence of 'ever trying alcohol' and binge and heavy binge drinking behaviours than any other ethnic group in the country.
Over a one-month period, more than 30 per cent of the Maori participants said they would drink five to nine drinks in a four-hour session, and another 30 per cent said they would drink more than 10 drinks.
Contrary to previous overseas studies, the researchers found witnessing parents drinking alcohol at home environment did not seem to increase the likelihood of Maori students' binge drinking behaviours.
Legislation and strategies that benefit Maori need to be "urgently addressed", said researchers.
" In addition, social campaigns that address the 'drinking culture' in New Zealand are required to reduce the exposure and social acceptability of heavy binge drinking for Maori youth", it said.