'National outcry': The health system is failing us, Māori claimants say

It's been labelled a health crisis - now, the Waitangi Tribunal has begun hearing from 200 claimants who say the health system is failing Māori.

Health statistics for Māori are dismal: they die seven years earlier than non-Māori.

On average, Māori men die at 73 years old, non-Māori at 80; Māori women die at 77, non-Māori at 84.

Cardiovascular disease and heart failure mortality rates are twice as high for Māori, stroke mortality rates are one-and-a-half times higher, and rheumatic heart disease is five times higher.

In addition, total cancer mortality is more than one-and-a-half times higher, and the mortality rate for cervical cancer is two-and-a-half times higher for Māori women.

Princess Te Puea was refused a licence to build a hospital to care for Māori during the 1918 flu epidemic.

Her descendants say 100 years on, the health of Māori is still dire - and they're being blocked from fixing it.

Taitimu Maipi says the health of Māori has deteriorated since colonisation. His claim is one of 200 being investigated by the Waitangi Tribunal in relation to Māori health.

"Suppression, genocide, and institutional racism - we must stop it," he said.

"This claim is about 100 years of genocide from the Crown, suppression of our people and for not allowing us to drive our own health initiatives."

Claimants accuse the Crown of running a health system that is racist, unequal and leaves Māori sick. They say the Crown's failure to care for Māori is a "national outcry" and breaches the Treaty.

Just 2 percent of health funding goes to Māori providers. Claimants say the Government is blocking Māori from caring for their own people - they want power and resources handed back to them.

The Crown's submission agrees the inequity is unacceptable, but doesn't go so far to say it's at fault.

This process is long and complex. Over the next three weeks at Tūrangawaewae Marae, the Tribunal will hear just two claims. The total is 200.

Some of the data will be funnelled into health policy, but the Tribunal process could take many years.