Indigenous | Te Puea Herangi

Kīngitanga calls for Māori hospital to fulfil the vision of Princess Te Puea

The Kīngitanga is calling for a Māori hospital to be built as part of its message of mana motuhake to the Crown.

It comes following the hui ā-motu recently held on Tūrangawaewae Marae, an event that invited thousands of people to share their aspirations and ideas for mana motuhake and how to uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Kīngitanga spokesperson Rahui Papa said in 1926 Te Puea Hērangi put the case forward to the government of the time that a Māori hospital was needed.

“In her view, and the argument still stands strong today, that if Māori can see themselves in the medical system, then they will engage a little bit better. In that time in the 1920s there was a whole lot of mistrust and people didn’t want to go to the Pākehā hospitals because they felt there were some underlying things, racism.”

Te Puea Hērangi (1883–1952) was a granddaughter of Tāwhiao Te Wherowhero, the second Māori King. In 1929, under Te Puea Hērangi’s leadership, a meeting house named Māhinārangi was built at Tūrangawaewae Marae intended to be a European-style hospital in a Māori setting to help improve the health of Māori.

However, health authorities turned down her application to use the building as a hospital.

“[Officials] were reported to have actually laughed at the kaupapa but the argument is still as strong as it was in 1926 than it is today. If Māori can feel comfortable engaging with the medical system, then they will engage even more.”

‘Our own doctors, nurses, medical school’

But Papa says work does need to be done in the health sector to build staff capacity for the hospital.

“You have to build the teaching fraternity to be able to deliver better education outcomes. The same thing with health, we need our own doctors, our own nurses, we need our own medical school to be able to fulfil these kaupapa rather than bringing people in from overseas.”

The message of building a hospital also stands alongside the Kīngitanga’s other messages of mana motuhake including calling for the protection of te reo, a voice for rangatahi and the development of Māori kaupapa-driven businesses.

“If we want to empower our people to be healthy and wealthy, then we need to start designing these sorts of things for ourselves really. What we need to do is to get together to complete the vision and the strategy and then seek the support of the government of the day to be able to support better health outcomes for Māori.”

Te Kīngitanga will deliver its message to the Crown at Waitangi when its people are welcomed with a pōwhiri on Sunday, February 4.