This report used the pooled 2014-2018 Youth Insights Survey (YIS) data to examine 14 and 15-year-old Pacific peoples’ past-month substance use (smoking, vaping, cannabis, drinking, and heavy episodic drinking).
The YIS is a nationally representative sample of Year 10 students in Aotearoa New Zealand. A new methodological approach was used to re-prioritise Pacific communities in order to better understand differences in substance use across different Pacific communities (ie, Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island, Niuean). Additionally, regression modelling was run to look at how substance use for young Pacific people – as a whole and within different Pacific communities – was affected by demographics, parent and friend substance use behaviours, and wellbeing and connectedness factors.
The results indicate that positive wellbeing scores, high family and community connectedness scores, and parents and friends who do not engage in substance use were all protective factors against substance use for all young Pacific peoples. The findings also showed that higher reported past-month substance use was related to the impacts of the Pacific diaspora and the effects of colonisation, with young Realm, NZ-born, and Maori-Pacific peoples reporting significantly higher past-month substance use compared to young non-Realm and overseas-born Pacific peoples. Differences in substance use across Pacific communities identified in this report point to the need to look at individual Pacific communities where possible and to not rely solely on pan-Pacific data when reporting on Pacific communities.