National | Te Aka Whai Ora

Crown says it is focused on improving Māori health outcomes but can not yet articulate it

Crown opposes urgent Waitangi Tribunal claim to halt disestablishment of the Māori Health Authority

A claim by Lady Tureiti Moxon and Janice Kuka filed in the Waitangi Tribunal seeking an urgent inquiry into the disestablishment of Te Aka Whai Ora, the Māori Health Authority has been opposed by the Crown.

The claimants’ application was made almost two weeks ago, in response to the new Government’s intention to promote new legislation that repeals the Pae Ora Act 2022 legislation that established the authority.

Lady Tureiti Moxon, managing director of Te Kōhao Health, and chair of the National Urban Māori Authority says the Government hasn’t consulted Māori according to the principles of Te Tiriti and it concedes the motivation is political as part of a campaign to win the General Election in October.

“It is a blatant disregard of the principles of Te Tiriti and the work of the Waitangi Tribunal. It is the pinnacle of racism, as it dismisses the Crown’s covenant with Māori,” says Lady Tureiti.

“It is yet another breach by the Crown who do not regard Māori as equals or partners under Te Tiriti,” says Lady Tureiti.

On Monday, December 18th a Memorandum of Counsel was filed on behalf of the Crown opposing the urgent Wai 3307 claim and says it currently has no alternative plan to address poor Māori outcomes.

In its filing, the Crown also admitted that its intention to promote legislation to disestablish was “not the product of a policy process”. Nor had there been a “consultation process with the Treaty partner”.

The Crown in its memorandum conceded “the decision has been made by the Government at the political level following political parties campaigning on this issue”.

And stated that the improvement of health outcomes for Māori will be a strong focus of the Government, however, admitted it “is not yet in a position to articulate in detail how it will do so”.

No evidence was provided in the submission to prove that the new Government’s proposed health restructure will be more effective at improving Māori health outcomes.

While the Crown says an urgent inquiry is premature, it fails to provide a viable solution based on evidence other than pushing through a political agenda in its 100-Day Action Plan, Lady Tureiti said.

“Te Aka Whai Ora was built from a foundation of comprehensive evidence heard in the Waitangi Tribunal and gave effect to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“The only commitment here by the Crown to improving Māori health outcomes is to remove the legal structure that was built to bring about transformational change in the health system to address Māori health inequities,” says Lady Tureiti.

In 2021 in the Haumaru Report on the Covid-19 Response, the Waitangi Tribunal said: “We see it as imperative that Cabinet, and the Crown more broadly, are more directly held to account to persuade it to not make policy to appease the general public at the expense of equity and fairness.”

Lady Tureiti and Janice Kuka have seen evidence of the positive impact of Te Aka Whai Ora in their respective health services that meet the needs of tens of thousands of whānau Māori.

“A deliberate and politically driven effort to undermine the advancements achieved so far signifies a systematic breakdown of the principles outlined in Te Tiriti o Waitangi across all government levels. This contradicts the essence of living as Treaty partners within a democratic society,” says Lady Tureiti.