John Tamihere: 'Māori Health Authority our constitutional right to access our resources'

By Stefan Dimitrof

Whānau ora and Te Whānau o Waipareira chief executive John Tamihere says the new Māori Health Authority is a game-changer. 

“It’s one of the most radical turnovers in the health system in the history of the constitution since the signing of the Treaty in 1840 at Waitangi,” he said after the official launch today.

Tamihere said people were likely to see an immediate change but  that there would be some significant changes in public and primary health care as “soon as you are closer to a Māori provider”.

Tamihere said he had nothing to say to the critics of New Zealand Health and the Māori Health Authority: “I don’t have to say anything to them, I have a constitutional right and entitlement to access my resources from the state coffers.”

'Buy a one-way ticket to Australia'

“We are sick and tired of the white settler party, the Act party, and, if they don’t like it here, they should buy a one-way ticket to Australia.”

“The National Party and the Act Party are here by our consent, they are not here by conquest, and we want our resources in our own hands.”

"The separatism they are talking about is they are used to controlling all our money, spending it on our behalf, failing and then blaming us. Those days are over.

Tamihere said “we are in the middle of the storytelling phase of our nationhood building and about our right to reclaim our mana whether it’s over health, welfare, education, justice, housing or employment. And each day we are driving forward we aren’t going backwards.”

“Do we have enough capacity, competency and capability moving forward at the moment? No, but that’s because we have never had control of our own resources.”

'Start to build up our capacity and capability'

Tamihere thinks there is a strong possibility that the Māori Health Authority is being set up to fail.

“Firstly, we need to follow the money, which normally says what you can and can’t do in regard to deploying things.”

“The second thing is, we need to audit and review who is getting our money and what they are doing with it. If it’s not working they [should] lose their jobs and contracts as they do to us all the time.”

“We are currently underfunded by 15 percentage points solely because we are brown and that racism has to stop.”

“And this new authority will start to make declarations about that as we start to transfer resources, as we start to build up our capacity and capability in the health sector."