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NZ Maori Council welcomes major Waitangi Tribunal recommendations that would see a new National Maor

NZ Maori Council welcomes major Waitangi Tribunal recommendations that would see a new National Maori Health Funding Authority established

“This is a once in a two hundred year opportunity – with so much against us when it comes to health, from cancer and heart health, to diabetes and organ failure, from suicide prevention and mental health – this is the chance for us to board the Waka together and finally address the health disparities that have afflicted Maori since the signing of the Treaty.” Matthew Tukaki, Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council

The New Zealand Maori Council has welcomed the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal in one of the largest “issues” / “Kaupapa” claims ever to be brought – the Wai 257 Health Claim. On 30 November 2016, the Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal prioritized an inquiry into nationally significant health issues. This signaled the commencement of the Health Services and Outcomes Kaupapa Inquiry (Wai 2575).

“This is not just a once in a generation finding – this is a once in a two-hundred-year opportunity for Maori and the Crown to very much focus on the central element of partnership – in this case, to ensure equity when it comes to Maori health. This stage one report findings and recommendations is the opportunity we also have before us to address Maori Health by Maori, for Maori.” Council Executive Director, Matthew Tukaki said.

The stage one report addresses claims concerning the way the primary health care system in New Zealand has been legislated, administered, funded and monitored by the Crown since the passing of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 (the Act) As a population group, Māori have on average the poorest health status of any ethnic group in New Zealand We also received uncontested statistical evidence demonstrating that, despite reform and readjustments, Māori health inequities have persisted in the nearly two decades since the Act was introduced. All the parties, including the Crown, consider the State of Maori Health is unacceptable. The New Zealand Maori Council played an integral role in supporting the process:

“The Waitangi Tribunal has found that the legislative, strategy and policy framework that administers the primary health care sector has failed our people. More importantly it reinforces what we have said all along in respect of the District Health Board model especially when it came to greater Māori participation in the work of district health boards; the DHB’s do not work effectively to afford Māori Treaty-consistent control of decision making in relation to health design and delivery.” Tukaki said

“More importantly it also reinforces the call of the New Zealand Maori Council that there should be a stand-alone National Maori Health Funding Authority and that the work must begin with haste. We also welcome the structural changes to the legislation that have been put forward by the Tribunal when it comes to the Public Health and Disability Act 2000 including the better defining of Maori and the responsibilities and obligations by the Crown when it comes to the Treaty.” Said Tukaki

“But this is it – we have on the table, in this stage of the claim, a Waitangi Tribunal report with some significant recommendations that can, and will, go a long way to finally pulling back on the every increasing gap between Maori and Non-Maori when it comes to health statistics – but more importantly it sets the waka from the shore as we, as a people, paddle forward into a future where we finally have the chance to build a future for our people where we can all live long and healthy lives.” Tukaki said

“The New Zealand Maori Council would like to thank members of the Waitangi Tribunal, especially Presiding Officers, Judge Clark, and all of the claimants involved in this first stage process. Together we have taken a big issue, evidence and data has been presented, examples given on where improvements can make a meaningful difference and where to go from here.” Tukaki

What next?

The Waitangi Tribunal has made an interim recommendation that (page 167) “(a) Within the next seven months, the Crown and representatives of the Wai 1315 and Wai 2687 claimants agree upon a methodology for the assessment of the extent of underfunding of Māori primary health organisations and providers The methodology should include a means of assessing initial establishment and ongoing resource underfunding since the commencement of the New Zealand Primary Health and Disability Act 2000 We direct that the Crown and the Wai 1315 and Wai 2687 claimants file a joint memorandum by 20 January 2020 updating the Tribunal on progress If the parties are unable to agree on filing a joint memorandum they may file separate memoranda”

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