Inquiry into Māori health inequities announced

By Talisa Kupenga

The New Zealand Māori Council welcomes the Māori Affairs Select Committee announcement of an inquiry into health inequities for Māori.

Council Executive Director Matt Tukaki says "I’m chuffed actually. I'm pretty happy."

Māori Affairs Select Committee Chairman Rino Tirikatene says "there are many issues that we will be covering but as a Māori committee we want to look at the issues that affect all Māori and definitely the health inequities that are so prevalent among our people.”

Tukaki was at parliament to push for an inquiry into better access for life extending breast cancer medications from PHARMAC. He helped push the Mulholland family's campaign in September.

He sought permission to appear before the committee nearly a month ago for an update, but with no confirmation whether an appearance was to go ahead he showed up today.

Te Ao Māori News asked the Māori Affairs Select Committee whether the inquiry announcement would have been the result if Tukaki had not showed face today.

Member Adrian Rurawhe says "I believe it would have. As our Chair has said we have to follow parliamentary procedure."

While the terms of reference were yet to be decoded the committee expects the inquiry to look into PHARMAC, barriers in treatment access, health care and outcomes.

Māori Affairs Select Committee Deputy Chair and Green Party Co-Leader Marama Davidson says "I'm really concerned that Māori women will die sooner and have less access to breast cancer medicines and prescriptions for example. I'm really concerned that there's a difference in the rate of resuscitation for Māori babies than for non-Māori babies."

The Committee will be liaising with the Health Select Committee to prevent any cross-over given it is handling similar issues.