Māori Health Authority welcomed by Human Rights Commission

Māori Health Authority welcomed by Human Rights Commission

April 21, 2021

The Human Rights Commission welcomes the creation of an independent Māori Health Authority as part of major reforms to health and disablity announced by the Government.

“It is particularly positive to honour Te Tiriti and tino rangatiratanga as essential to advancing Māori health equity and improving the health system,” Chief Commissioner Paul Hunt said.

Minister of Health Andrew Little today outlined plans to implement the Health and Disability Review recommendations published in June last year. Included in the announcement is the establishment of the Māori Health Authority to develop strategy and policy and to commission, in an authentic Tiriti o Waitangi partnership with Health NZ, health services for the whole country.

“Today’s announcements, as well as the health and disability review and the Waitangi Tribunal report – all recognise that the current system isn’t working for Māori – as demonstrated in the severe, entrenched health inequities that Māori experience,” Mr Hunt said.

Health NZ is a new crown entity which will replace District Health Boards (DHBs) to commission health services for the whole country. It will be made up of four regional divisions and a range of district offices.

“While we look forward to understanding the detail behind today’s announcements, the language of rangatiratanga being used, references to joint decision-making, and Māori control of Māori health signal an important step change,” he said.

An independent Māori Health Authority was among the recommendations made by the Waitangi Tribunal in its Hauora stage 1 report on Māori health services and outcomes.

The announcements recognise that substantial systems change is required, and that enabling Māori to exercise rangatiratanga is key to making real progress.

“We’re encouraged by the direction signalled in today’s announcements. The details will be critically important, and we look forward to understanding these as more information emerges,” Mr Hunt said.

The announcements note that Māori will need to be deeply involved in the design of the new Māori Health Authority, along with other features of the new health system.

“To be truly reflective of rangatiratanga, this should extend to Iwi and Māori determining the membership of the new authority and that it is properly resourced,” said Tricia Keelan Pou Ārahi of the commission.

“It will also mean ensuring that the entire system has Te Tiriti o Waitangi at its core, and all elements of the system – including Health NZ, the refocused Ministry of Health and new Public Health Agency – are effective for Māori,” she said.

The Commission looks forward to further information, including regarding funding, and draft legislation in due course.