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Kaumātua says plan to dump Māori Health Authority will deprive Māori

Merewai Durutalo

Health Minister Shane Reti says legislation he introduced into Parliament to dump the Māori Health Authority was needed.

“This infant needed to get up on its feet and start walking and it didn’t in that short period of time.

“What is happening here is we’re just disestablishing the Māori Health Authority and showing those parts of the legislation that will remain.

“You’ll see this through the legislation that there are parts of Whai Ora which I have retained, like the whole of the Maōri Advisory Committee, for example, whose counsel I have found wise to date already.”

But the Iwi Chairs Forum’s Pou Tangata co-chair, Rahui Papa, says there has been no kōrero about what the alternative will be and whānau, hapū and iwi hauora providers have not been presented with alternatives.

“It’s time this coalition Government stopped pointing the finger at the previous government and provided Aotearoa New Zealand with its roadmap.”

Reti: ‘Outcomes-focused’

Papa says the coalition Government has no plan “that ensures our communities are receiving nothing but the absolute best health services”.

He emphasises that other health professionals have expressed serious concerns about no concrete plans for a replacement.

“When you have GPs and other health professionals concerned about these changes and there is no plan, we all need to be concerned.”

Reti says the coalition Government is outcomes-focused.

“We’ve said that time and time again. This is about outcomes, getting better outcomes.”

He says there will be a mix of things that he says come from the government policy statements and there will be a mix of things from bottom-up and Māori health providers.

‘Contemporary breach of Treaty’

“It hasn’t been delivered yet, but it will certainly inform what those outcomes are.”

Papa says the memorandum filed by the Crown with the Waitangi Tribunal announcing the Crown’s intention to pass legislation in Parliament to disestablish Te Aka Whai Ora on February 27 is dishonourable and a contemporary breach of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

He says the claimants were granted an urgent hearing, which was to have taken place on Thursday and that the Government’s pre-emptive strike to introduce the changes to Parliament yesterday "was engineered to remove the right of our people to be heard before the Waitangi Tribunal”.

“Te Tiriti o Waitangi is a sacred covenant involving two peoples and we need to all uphold and honour this relationship. We should have the right to be heard on matters that we believe are contrary to te Tiriti.”

Seeking urgent debate

Te Pāti Māori co-leader, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says the Government’s use and abuse of urgency to drop the Māori Health Authority has created a dictatorship in what should be a Tiriti-led democratic state.

She emphasises that the authority was given only 18 months in comparison to other authorities that fail time and time again.

“Eighteen months and we’ve got Oranga Tamariki, which is harming and killing our babies, that has been allowed to continue, review after review through its failings”.

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi says the Māori Health Authority drove policies that allowed Māori to drive Māori solutions, for the problems created by the state over years of abuse.

The party has asked the Speaker for an urgent debate on the matter.

“Such a debate would provide an opportunity for representatives from all parties to voice their concerns, and ultimately ensure that legislative processes remain fair, inclusive, and respectful of te Tiriti o Waitangi and democracy,” Waititi said.

Ngarewa-Packer says urgency has been used in every sitting week of the 2024 sitting year but “it is an abuse of Government’s power”.

Hero Image: Rahui Papa. Photo / Mark Mitchell

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