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Maori Expectations of Health Sector Shake-up Significant: Once in a generation change

The Chair of the National Maori Authority, Matthew Tukaki, is welcoming what he has described the single largest overhaul of the health system in a generation that will be announced by the Minister of Health, Andrew Little, at 8am Wednesday morning. Tukaki, who will be at Parliament for the announcement, has said he is looking for some simple yet large scale improvements to primary health:

“I have said time and time again that we have too much bureaucracy in this country and that means I am looking to a consolidation of the District Health Boards – reducing the number to below a dozen from the current nearly more than twenty is one way of stripping out administrative costs and moving the money to where it is needed – the frontline. That means greater investment in improving frontline primary health services, workforce and an emphasis on our nursing workforce – the days of boardrooms run in little ivory towers has to be over” Tukaki said

“The reality is Maori health disparities loom large in these reforms. We know that Maori have higher rates of cancer, higher rates of cardiovascular, higher rates of diabetes and limb amputations, higher rates of liver and kidney disease – and now Statistics New Zealand has released figures just the other day indicating that Maori life expectancy rates remain much lower than that of non-Maori – so something has to give and that is the standing up of the Maori Health Authority. It has been called for because of those disparities and one of the specific things I am looking for is the standing up of an Authority to commission local programs and work – and I am excited by that because the work around prevention will be key.” Tukaki said

“The fact is our health system has not delivered value over many years – from dilapidated hospital and health infrastructure to pay inequity – but more importantly in a first world nation we should have health equity no matter if your are Maori or non-Maori, rural or urban, male or female – this is why we need these reforms. When the nation is well, the economy is well, when the nation is well, the community is well and every New Zealander should have a fighting chance at life through a world class health system.” Tukaki said

“But I also send a cautionary note - nothing this large happens overnight. This will not be a case of waking up at 9am in the morning and flicking a switch and all is good. It will take hard work, it will take time, investment and all of us pulling in the right direction – but when it is the health of our people and the health of the nation it is incumbent on us doing all we can and doing it now.” Tukaki said

Matthew Tukaki is the Chair of the National Maori Health Authority, Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council and Chair of the Ministry of Health Maori Health Monitoring Group.


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