27 Feb 2024

Bill disestablishing Māori Health Authority to go through Parliament under urgency today

12:49 pm on 27 February 2024
Parliament stands for a minute silence after the death of Fa'anānā Efeso Collins on 21 February, 2024.

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Legislation disestablishing the Māori Health Authority will be introduced and passed under urgency in Parliament on Tuesday, before a Waitangi Tribunal hearing can take place challenging the move.

The lead claimant bringing the Waitangi Tribunal claim, Lady Tureiti Moxon, said the scrapping of the Māori Health Authority decision to repeal scrap the Māori Health Authority was dismissive of the Waitangi Tribunal, but Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said the government had acted in good faith.

Lady Tureiti said the fact the bill was under urgency would mean the tribunal's urgent claim before the Waitangi Tribunal would not be heard until after the legislation had been passed.

"This whole process, it's been ... very very dismissive of not just the claimants but of the Waitangi Tribunal as well," she said.

The government had absolutely ignored Māori voices on the issue, she said.

"Not only is it a breach of good faith, they absolutely have dismissed us completely as having no voice and really being very dismissive of the Waitangi Tribunal and the processes of the Waitangi Tribunal."

Luxon said he had been "very clear" about his plans to abolish the authority.

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Lady Tureiti Moxon says the government has ignored Māori voices on the issue of abolishing the Māori Health Authority. Photo: Supplied

"We've opposed the Māori Health Authority ... from the beginning cause we just don't think increasing bureaucracy here in Wellington is the way to deliver better health outcomes for Māori and we think there's better ways to do that," he said.

"We campaigned on it, we won an election, it appeared in our 100 day plan."

Luxon defended scrapping the authority to reporters at Parliament on Tuesday morning.

"We have opposed the Māori Health Authority right from conception, we've been consistent about that in opposition. We went to an election campaign, we talked about what we would do in government ... we're following through on that," he said.

"The Waitangi Tribunal will go through its process but we as a government are also going through our process ... we are doing this because it's part of our 100-day plan, it's a long-standing commitment that we've made, we've opposed it from the get go.

"We think there's a better way in which we can deliver better health outcomes for Māori which is actually localism, devolution, partnering with iwi and other organisations to do that job well.

"I appreciate the Waitangi Tribunal have a process - we also have a process which has been well signposted, well flagged."

Lady Tureiti said they had been hoping the government would reverse its decision to disestablish the authority.

"They're taking away something that Māori have very clearly said we want to remain and we want to continue with."

The government has not provided enough information about how it would be replaced and it seemed as though Māori health would come back under Te Whatu Ora which meant Māori health inequities would continue to grow, she said.

But Luxon said the government had been talking with iwi about the alternative.

"We've already spent $50 million just before Christmas to work on the issues that we're talking about and the way we want to work which is actually working with iwi health organisations to drive immunisation rates of Māori under two from 71 percent up to 90 percent - that's the way you improve Māori health outcomes."

Luxon said he did not believe increasing bureaucracy in Wellington was the way to improve Māori health outcomes.

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