7 Dec 2021

Tamihere concerned over data release delay after latest High Court victory

10:56 am on 7 December 2021

Whānau Ora chief executive John Tamihere says "faceless unelected bureaucrats" have been proven wrong again following its latest High Court victory of Māori vaccination data.

Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency chief executive John Tamihere says the Ministry of Health is running out of time to release data on unvaccinated Māori after losing a landmark decision in the High Court on Monday.

Whānau Ora chief executive John Tamihere says the government is involved in a divide-and-rule strategy. Photo: Stuff / Jason Dorday

But he is concerned there could be another delay to the release of information over the vaccination status of data on unvaccinated North Island Māori.

The Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency had already forced the Ministry to give it some information but pursued further court action to get the rest released.

Last night the High Court again directed the Ministry to review its decision not to hand over any more details.

Tamihere told Morning Report, while the court had directed the release of information on unvaccinated Maori, it give Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloom discretion to deny the agency access to Māori needing a second vaccination jab.

The ministry said it was now taking steps to meet the court's requirements and was consulting with a number of iwi who had worries about releasing the information.

"You either reward people who can put needles in arms in terms of positive vaccinations, in offers in communities where Mr Bloomfield and his friends have failed," Tamihere said.

"The High Court has again advised them within three days to release the data sets of unvaccinated Māori. That is a clear ruling. The second ruling made is Māori requiring their second vaccination release the information. but you've got three days to review that decision.

"So the first decision is to release unvaccinated Māori data and that is a no-brainer. It should have been done in September and we wouldn't be in any strife.

"The second one gives Bloomfield another discretion to deny us access to non-vaccinated second-requirement jab people. In the court case Bloomfield argued that we should wait eight weeks before he gives that information over. Why eight weeks when people can get vaccinated again in three weeks is iniquitous."

The judgement also noted that some iwi didn't want the information released. Whanganui iwi didn't regard it necessary for data to be released in their area and shared with the applicants. The iwi said they had already made it available to local providers.

Tamihere said that assertion was wrong because there wasn't even the means or capacity to deliver data on individual Māori.

"The NHI is an estimate descriptor. It doesn't have any iwi information in it whatsoever. So even if iwi want information it is not available because it's just Maoris, right?" he said.

"Certain iwi warlords don't own a herd," he said. "Some of Whanganui iwi don't control my Ngāti Porou people that live in Whanganui town centre. Whanganui people don't control a herd. Iwi leaders don't control and own a herd. We're not animals, we're people with rights to access vaccinations."

The government's consultation with iwi was being used as a divide and rule tactic to attempt to deny fundamental rights of equitable access to vaccinations, he added.

"The first case was about Māori not being capable or Māori not being able to be trusted with the information or Māori breaching privacy. All of these were struck down by the High Court.

"They then seized upon colonisation 101, divide and rule the natives. I don't accept that. What I do accept is can Māori get equality of opportunity to vaccine access point. That's all this case is about."

He said the issue remained how do you deploy in the most efficient way possible vaccine opportunities to people.

"We've proven beyond all reasonable doubt that these decision-makers are wrong ... and everywhere you go there's faceless unelected bureaucrats making all sorts of unusual decisions."

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