Tamihere attacks Ministry of Health tactics as court hearing on data delayed

By Te Ao - Māori News

The Ministry of Health is staying mum on whether it deliberately created a “smokescreen” in negotiations with Whānau Ora chief executive John Tamihere over Māori medical data.

Tamihere today alleged the ministry had thrown him a “legal underarm.”

He said after days of negotiations with the ministry over Māori data that would be released by consent so Whānau Ora could reach unvaccinated people, “the rug was literally pulled from under us.”

Whānau Ora filed urgent legal proceedings in the Wellington High Court on October 8 and an urgent hearing was granted.

But on Monday – four days before the October 22 court date set under urgency – the ministry approached Whānau Ora, with a proposal.

Tamihere said believing the ministry was being upfront and honest to find a solution, he agreed to forgo Friday’s hearing in the Wellington High Court.

‘Delaying tactic’

“We were given an undertaking that this matter would be sorted amicably without having to prosecute the matter in court,” Tamihere said.

“We took that approach from the ministry in good faith and consented to delaying our urgency claim."

But he alleges that was a delaying tactic to give it more time to build its case. “We were played.”

The final data set proposed by the ministry was a smokescreen, Tamihere claimed.

The case will now be heard in Wellington on Tuesday, October 26.

 “All we have ever wanted, as with our February proposal to ministers, is the opportunity to give our whānau Māori an even chance against Covid,” Tamihere said.

Specific data available

“We are not in competition with the ministry. Whānau Ora has already delivered 500, 000 vaccinations.

“The longer the ministry delays, the harder our job is to locate and vaccinate Māori.”

Asked to comment, a Ministry of Health spokesman said the ministry remained committed to appropriate data sharing, and was actively looking at doing this where possible with a range of organisations that are supporting communities to increase levels of vaccination uptake.

He said the ministry had agreed to share a specific data set, small area unit-level data, with the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency

“The Ministry of Health remains committed to appropriate data sharing, and is actively looking at doing this where possible with a range of organisations that are supporting communities to increase levels of vaccination uptake.  

“A large amount of information is already publicly available including vaccination rates by suburb – vaccination data is available on the ministry website,” he said.

But the spokesman said as this matter is before the courts,” it would be inappropriate for the ministry to comment any further at this time.”