22 Apr 2021

Māori Health Authority must include holistic wellbeing - Ngāi Tahu health provider

5:10 pm on 22 April 2021

A Southern iwi health provider wants the new Māori Health Authority to fund services that encompass all of hauora, not just GP visits.

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Photo: 123rf

The government will be canvassing views of Māori medical experts, iwi and providers across the country in the coming months about what services the Māori authority should fund, how much money it will have, and who will be represented on the Iwi-Māori partnership boards, which will operate on a local level.

Māori medical professionals and health advocates are "midly optimistic" the authority will have power.

Ōtākou Health Limited, Ngāi Tahu health provider in Dunedin, has backed the reforms and its chair Donna Matahaere-Atariki said it had been a long time coming because Māori had been "completely underserved for far too long".

"I think that there's a clear direction that the way that we've worked and the way we're structured hasn't given effect to giving Māori a voice in there, so I'm hopeful that this is a real opportunity that we can lean into," Matahaere-Atariki said.

In the Ngāi Tahu region, Matahaere-Atariki said there was already a kāhui of health providers that covered the South Island up to Kaikōura and they had an existing strong relationship with the Christchurch Urban Māori Authority, Mataa Waka.

She envisioned an Iwi-Māori board would have representation from Ngāi Tahu, the health providers and Mataa Waka, and the latter would represent those Māori who do not whakapapa to Ngāi Tahu.

She wanted the Māori Health Authority to not just fund traditional primary health care.

"We need to reimagine what that primary healthcare sector looks like ... currently, when we talk about primary care we're usually only talking about GP services, might be blood, could be X-rays. I'm talking about the whole sector in terms of family violence, in terms of housing, everything else like that."

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