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Politics | Health

Parliament passes bill to disestablish Te Aka Whai Ora

After two long days of debating in the chamber, bill to axe Māori health authority passes

The Pae Ora amendment bill to disestablish the Māori health authority Te Aka Whai Ora has passed into law in Parliament.

The bill was passed 68–54 on strict party lines

Former Māori health minister Peeni Henare was scathing in his critique of the bill as it entered its third reading in Parliament on Wednesday.

“We called this the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) legislation. What this [action today] sends to our whānau outside of this Parliament is actually, this is pae mate.”

Rush job to get legislation through

The bill was heard under urgency. It began late on Tuesday afternoon, with the aim of getting the bill through all three readings in one sitting, which left little time for the opposition to get their heads around what it meant for Māori.

Health Minister Shane Reti said in the House that the National-led coalition understood the enormous job ahead in fixing poorer Māori health outcomes and shortfalls in the health system.

“I acknowledge these disparities and the need to improve them. As I’ve said before, if we focus on need, we very quickly find that it is Māori that have the greatest need in most areas of health.”

What to do with policies?

Under the Pae Ora Amendment Act, iwi-Māori partnership boards stay; lifting immunisation rates is key for the health minister but it’s not known whether rongoā Māori will be protected.

Under the Therapeutic Products Act 2023, rongoā Māori was to be protected under Te Aka Whai Ora.

In response to questions about rongoā Māori, Minister Reti was unclear as to whether protections for rongoā Māori would remain, saying “that it is outside the scope of this bill”.