PRESS RELEASE: Māori Health Authority and Health New Zealand interim board appointments first step in longer journey

Sep 24, 2021

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PRESS RELEASE 24/09/2021
Māori Health Authority and Health New Zealand interim board appointments first step in longer journey

An important first step, marking another milestone in the health reforms and in addressing inequities for Māori; one that the Government should be congratulated for. That’s the view of National Hauora Coalition (NHC) on yesterday’s interim board announcements for Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority.

The next steps, however, will be crucial in determining whether the reforms will be truly transformational or amount to a reshuffling of current arrangements, commented NHC Chief Executive Simon Royal.

“Setting out the policy and legislative arrangements so that the Ministry of Health, Public Health Agency, Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority are compelled to prioritise Māori health equity is the single greatest challenge that remains. Current longstanding intergenerational inequities are a humanitarian crisis of our own making and will continue to undermine the social fabric of Aotearoa until they are addressed.”

Mr Royal said that we need not look any further than the Māori response to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for evidence that policy must reflect Māori communities’ preferences and a deep understanding of the causes of distrust in the current health system. “Establishing the policy settings to enable this,” Mr Royal stated, “would be key in avoiding a repeat of the 2001 Primary Care Strategy which failed to address health inequities for Māori.”

“It is not good enough for the Government to state that the onus is on Māori to come forward for vaccination when we know that the inequities we see are a result of the way the system has been designed” he said. “A well-connected system, complete with a transparent organisational culture, free from institutional patch-protection and where personal prejudices and institutional racism are not tolerated is required.”

As Waitangi Tribunal claimants and as a key Māori commissioning entity in primary and community health, NHC is committed to te Tiriti o Waitangi and advocating for an equitable health and disability system.

“We are looking forward to these reforms being truly transformational and working with Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority to develop the necessary infrastructure in primary and community care.” Mr Royal said.

NHC has long believed that putting whānau at the centre of these reforms is the key. “Most other industries – retail, airline, telco – are all consumer driven. They put the customer at the centre. Doing that in our health system has the potential to be absolutely transformational for Māori,” Mr Royal said.

About National Hauora Coalition
The NHC kaupapa is mana whānau, whānau ora and is a lead advocate for hauora Māori (Wai 2687) through the Waitangi Tribunal Health Services Kaupapa Inquiry (Wai 2575). In its day-to-day activities NHC partners with a wide range of agencies, Iwi and industry groups to commission and deliver a broad range of indigenously designed health and social services to improve health outcomes for Māori, achieve health equity and greater social cohesion for the benefit of Aotearoa.

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For further information please contact:
Penny Elliot
+64 27 3277 644
pennye@nhc.maori.nz