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10 August, 2021

Time to right the wrongs of decades of underfunding

PRESS RELEASE 10/08/2021
Time to right the wrongs of decades of underfunding

In a landmark report released yesterday to the Waitangi Tribunal, we have confirmation of significant and continual underfunding of Māori health in Aotearoa.

The report, commissioned by three Waitangi Tribunal claimant groups including National Hauora Coalition (NHC), shows that, for nearly two decades, Māori primary health care providers and Māori Primary Health Organisations (PHOs) have not been properly funded to serve their enrolled population. The cumulative impact of this is estimated to be as high as $531 million.

“When we took our claim to the Waitangi Tribunal in 2018 we knew that we had not been properly funded to serve the population we are so committed to, especially in comparison to mainstream PHOs. This report puts a large dollar figure on this systemic underfunding and allows us to have serious conversations with the Government about how it will right the wrongs,” says NHC Chief Executive, Simon Royal.

NHC’s primary health care claim was heard by the Waitangi Tribunal claim in 2018 (Wai 2575 Stage One). The Waitangi Tribunal findings, set out in its Hauora report, highlight a number of breaches of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi by Government in its design and implementation of the 2001 Primary Health Care Strategy.

The Waitangi Tribunal’s recommendations have already been influential in shaping proposals for a Māori Health Authority and yesterday’s report has the potential to be as influential in shaping government funding decisions.

“One of the most significant findings of this report is that, if we as a society are truly serious about achieving health equity for Māori, we would be investing around $1 billion more per year,” says Kahurangi Dame Tariana Turia.

“This investment would have a positive and lasting impact on Māori whānau and communities, on hapū and Iwi, and will remove many of the barriers to hauora that are put in place by a lack of government funding.”

The report’s focus was to develop methodologies to calculate underfunding to Māori PHOs and providers and methodologies to determine levels of funding for primary care if the equity goals of the 2001 Primary Health Care Strategy were taken seriously. The report provides test calculations that estimate up to $531 million in historical underfunding to Māori health organisations. The report also indicates $1 billion was needed to properly invest in Māori-centred primary care and the cost to the country due to the underinvestment has been $5 billion per year.

The NHC is working with its fellow claimants (Lady Tureiti Moxon, Janice Kuka, Taitimu Maipi and Hakopa Paul) in seeking commitment from Government both on compensating Māori PHOs and providers, and in applying the report’s methodologies to shape government investment in the future health and disability system transformation.

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.


For further information please contact:
James Spencer
+64 21 243 2486

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