Māori Health Authority a step closer

By Whatitiri Te Wake

After recent strong Māori calls for an independent Māori Health Authority, it's looking as if it could soon be a reality.

A joint memorandum has been signed detailing the terms of reference for an independent Maori Health Authority.

Claimant Lady Tureiti Moxon says it’s a “positive step” in the direction of Māori improving health equities for Māori.

“He manatu rereke mo Ngai Māori. E titiro ki ngā mate o te Māori, ki te whakatika i ngā mate o te Māori. Titiro kia mātou nei, ehara i roto i te nuinga o te Manatu Hauora

("A different entity for Māori. One that will look into Māori illnesses and Māori solutions. Not to be lost in the wider Ministry of Health)”.

The independent Māori Health Authority was a recommendation made by the Waitangi Tribunal following the Wai2757 and Its realisation could come sooner rather than later.

'All options'

Lady Moxon says “working in partnership is key to changing Māori health outcomes.”

“When it comes to choosing who gets an operation and who doesn't, we miss out. Choosing who gets that kind of support, that diagnosis or that xray - we still miss out.”

In a statement, Health Minister Andrew Little confirmed a Māori Health Authority was a recommendation from Heather Simpson's Health and Disability report.

“The government is committed to exploring all options that will improve health for Maori,” he said.

The joint memorandum records the Crown’s agreement to the creation of a Māori Health Authority and to engage with the claimants on the terms of reference.

“The devil is always in the detail and this still needs further engagement with Māori." National Urban Māori Authority chair Lady Tureiti Moxon says. "However this is a positive and fundamental step in our united journey in determining how Māori improve health for Māori."

“As the Treaty partner, Māori will be holding the Crown to these commitments, so we actually achieve equitable outcomes for our people. There is substantial evidence over decades that Māori can and do improve the health of Māori.”

Confidence in minister

Lady Moxon is confident the minister can deliver and says the time  Māori to just be contractors is passed and now they need to be partners to achieve better Māori outcomes.

“He can see the need for Māori to participate in our own health and wellbeing up. Until now we've been contractors in every single one of the ministries. We're contractors - and we're not partners. At least he's got a real understanding of what it means to be a partner under Te Tiriti o Waitangi,” she says

Last week at Waitangi, the Green Party stated its support and confidence in anMāori Health Authority. Green co-leader Marama Davidson committed to “prioritising an independent Māori Health Authority and, more importantly, returning the care and solutions to our Māori communities.”

Lady Moxon said Mana Motuhake and Tino Rangatiratanga were what was at stake and were the solution for Māori wellbeing.

“That's where we're going and that's where we need to go. If we don't take control - we're going to be the ones at the end of the line waiting and hoping someone is going to pick something up.”

“We want to be able to say,' yes you can have that operation, yes we can do this for you, for ourselves,' And iwi can be part of that, hapu can be part of that, and certainly talk of giving capacity and growing our Marae and we certainly need to be doing that because those are the people who are on the ground."

A lot for the government to consider, with Little saying he is expecting a decision no later than April