Judith Collins slams Māori Health Authority, reveals veto

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

National Party leader Judith Collins has come out firing against the proposed Māorii Health Authority, calling it "segregation." 

The Māori Health Authority was announced last week as part of health reforms by Health Ministers Andrew Little and Peeni Henare last week and was described as a start to  "giving true effect to tino rangatiratanga and our obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi."

But, in a statement today, Collins said, "The government has stated that it has a te Tiriti obligation to segregate healthcare in New Zealand, dividing us into Māori and everyone else. As far as the National Party is concerned, segregation was an appalling idea last century and it remains an appalling idea in 2021."

Collins said the government’s cabinet paper reveals the Māori Health Authority would also have the power to veto any decision made by Health NZ.

"What does the government hope to achieve by separating our healthcare along racial lines and then placing the power of veto in the hands of one race-based institution?" she asked.

“Equality is a core value of the National Party and we will not budge on our position that every New Zealander, no matter their race, should have access to the same rights and opportunities including access to healthcare.”

The changes to the health system will include:

  • all district health boards will be replaced by one national organisation, Health New Zealand;
  • a new Māori Health Authority will have the power to commission health services, monitor the state of Māori health and develop policy;
  • a new Public Health Agency will be created; and
  • a strengthened Ministry of Health will monitor performance and advise the government.

Associate Minister of Health (Māori) Peeni Henare said at the announcement that Māori health had suffered under the current system for too long,

“We will legislate for a new independent voice – the Māori Health Authority – to drive hauora Māori and lead the system to make real change.

“It will have joint decision-making rights to agree national strategies, policies and plans that affect Māori at all levels of the system and it will work in partnership with Health New Zealand to ensure service plans and the commissioning of health services drive improvement,” 

Collins has hit back, saying “Labour needs to be honest with all New Zealanders about how it is interpreting the Treaty and how far it intends to take ‘co-governance. We can argue the language and meaning of the Treat, but the Prime Minister and her government should be open and transparent about how they are approaching it at the very least."