Politics | Te Aka Whai Ora

10,000-signature petition opposing dumping of Māori Health Authority comes too late

An activist group’s attempt to persuade the government to change its mind on dumping the Te Aka Whai Ora has come too late as Health Minister Shane Reti rammed its disestablishment act through Parliament today.

ActionStation Aotearoa has been collecting signatures for a petition protesting the disestablishment and by last night it had reached 10,000 signatures.

ActionStation director Kassie Hartendorp (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) says that the everyone they have spoken to in support of the petition are deeply concerned about the bill to disestablish Te Aka Whai Ora.

“The fact that there is no clear plan for how to extend Māori life and to look after us as a community. There’s no plan on the table,” she says.

“Te Aka Whai Ora was set up to address an actual issue, which is in fact that Māori are dying seven years earlier than Pākehā, that we’re overrepresented in all the negative health statistics.”

She says the disestablishment of Te Aka Whai Ora absolutely shows it’s all about appealing to the coalition government’s populism and the politics of the day rather than taking care of Māori communities and the people who are most in need.

Mourning a ‘positive and exciting initiative’

“So, what I think is that this government is irresponsible. It does not have the ability to be able to look after us as Māori and we need new people who can.”

Hartendorp says Te Aka Whai Ora was a positive and exciting initiative that was going to be by Māori ,for Māori to find solutions..

She says the petition signers are devastated.

“I can safely say that everyone we’re talking to right now is absolutely devastated that this is being wiped off the table. It’s an absolute loss.”

Reti had said in his Parliament address yesterday that this coalition government was “outcomes focused”.

“The talk of outcomes is just wrong. It’s just a way to be able to justify an action that will mean that more Māori suffer, our people will die earlier,” Hartendorp says.

‘Throwing Maōri under the bus’

She argues that the doing away with Te Aka Whai Ora is a move by the coalition government to appeal to a racist supporter base and to throw Māori under the bus while doing it.

“I actually think that everything that the National Party, New Zealand First and ACT are saying on this is wrong.”

Hartendorp says Māori will have more health problems through the removal of Te Aka Whai Ora and that National knows this.

“It’s actually not about outcomes at all. It is about our health, how we thrive and how we live.

And right now, that has just been made very clear that it’s under attack.”

Hartendorp hopes Tangata Tīriti take the time to see the harm that the government is causing Māori and to be able to stand in solidarity with them.

“I hope that Māori continue to do exactly as we’re doing, which is looking after our people, our language, our culture and our whakapapa.”

Te Rito