Māori Health Authority to be abolished

Default Profile ImageBen O'Connell
Māori Health Authority

ACT Party health spokesman and MP Todd Stephenson says the abolition of the Māori Health Authority will bring the health system closer to ACT’s ideal of services delivered based on New Zealanders’ needs, not racial identity.

With ACT’s coalition pledge to disestablish the Māori Health Authority included in the Government’s 100-day plan, New Zealanders can expect legislation to be introduced early this year.

Stephenson says the Māori Health Authority experiment has been a disastrous waste of half a billion dollars. It failed to hire for critical skills because it was too focused on hiring based on race, it sacked half its board, and above all, it created resentment and division among New Zealanders, he says.

Using race to determine who gets access to health services is painting with an awfully broad brush. Elevating race above factors like age, income group, geographic location, and personal medical history inevitably detracts from the principle of needs-based public healthcare, meaning someone, somewhere, in desperate need misses out.

The emphasis should be fitting services to every individual, from every background. Our population is more diverse than just Māori and non-Māori.

ACT’s coalition agreement also secured a commitment to examine the Māori and Pacific Admission Scheme (MAPAS) and Otago equivalent to determine if they are delivering desired outcomes for users of health services.

And as Associate Minister for Health, David Seymour is working to unwind the red tape that denies Kiwis access to life-saving medicines.

Doctors urge Government to retain Te Aka Whai Ora Māori Health Authority

In November 2023, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians said they look forward to working with the incoming health minister to address significant issues for the physical and mental healthcare system across Aotearoa, New Zealand.

But the RACP also took the opportunity to urge the government to retain Te Aka Whai Ora – the Māori Health Authority. President Dr Stephen Inns said the Royal Australasian College of Physicians supported the creation of Te Aka Whai Ora as a step towards transformative health system change.

The RACP has supported the creation of an independent Māori Health Authority as a step towards transformative change in our health system since it was first proposed in 2020, they said in a media release.

We recognise our shared responsibility to close the gap in health outcomes for Māori in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and strongly support a Māori for Māori approach at every level in healthcare. 

A commitment to Te Tiriti principles of tino rangatiratanga, active protection, partnership, options and equity in health care has been long overdue, and Te Aka Whai Ora is an opportunity for this to occur.

Waitangi Tribunal claim follows Te Aka Whai Ora abolishment plans 

In December 2023 a Waitangi Tribunal claim was filed under urgency in regards to the Government’s 100-day plan to disestablish the Māori Health Authority. 

The claim, Wai 3307, was filed for claimants Lady Tureiti Moxon and Janice Kuka on behalf of the governors, managers, staff, and Māori cared for by Māori-owned primary health organisations and Māori providers with General Practitioner clinics.

Lady Tureiti, managing director of Te Kōhao Health and chairwoman of the National Urban Māori Authority (NUMA), said the coalition Government’s move to abolish Te Aka Whai Ora is a breach of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Te Aka Whai Ora was one of the recommendations that was made by the Waitangi Tribunal as part of a solution towards transformational change that gave effect to Māori mana motuhake and by Māori for Māori, she said in a media release.

Given the number of premature deaths from preventative diseases, this was an empowered solution to address the inequities of the health system and adverse outcomes for Māori in Aotearoa.