National | Accident Compensation Corporation

Separate ACC agency for Māori?

The Accident Compensation Commission has been analysing its own data and has found Māori are less likely to make claims, and more likely to have their claims declined.

That's why National Maori Authority Ngā Ngaru Rautahi o Aotearoa chair Mathew Tukaki wants to see a complete overhaul of the Crown entity.

"This is not about having a separate Māori system. This is about making sure the system works for Māori in a way where ACC is both engaging with us and also making sure we are aware of what we are entitled to."

But Green Party ACC spokesperson Jan Logie says, in its current format, the agency isn't fulfilling its Treaty of Waitangi obligations.

"When we've had this big discussion around what's required to meet the needs of the health of all people in Aotearoa and particularly Māori and acknowledging Te Tiriti rights, then actually ACC is part of that same picture but we've excluded that from our discussion up that point."

Tukaki says, "The truth is this is not new and has been going for some years and it happens a multitude of ways.

"One example for Maori, in particular, is where they are sometimes treated as somehow trying to rort the system - in other words, there appears to be this conscious 'that Maori bloke is just like all the others' when assessing claims. The other is when diagnosis through medical misadventure comes into play and again what I would call the very conscious bias occurs of pretty much just not believing Maori making a claim."

According to the agency's own analysis, there is a clear bias toward certain groups in society, in particular Māori. Despite making up 16 percent of the population, Māori only make up 12 percent of new lodged claims. Wāhine Māori were also less likely than tāne Māori to receive weekly compensation.

In 2017, ACC launched a new strategy, Whāia Te Tika, to reduce inequalities for Māori, but Māori still lags behind. According to ACC Minister Carmen Sepuloni it's clear that there is bias in the system.

"There is a bias over how it is set up and how it works, and so we do need to look at how we can ensure all New Zealanders are served well by the ACC."

But the minister says the government isn't interested in a separate ACC for Māori.

"That is not a consideration that we have, we just want to make sure that the ACC is working for all New Zealanders."