Health advocate says there is structural racism at ACC as Waitangi Tribunal claim submitted

Health advocate Lady Tureiti Moxon says breaches of Te Tiriti in the New Zealand health system are still happening.

Lady Tureiti submitted her claim to the Waitangi Tribunal on Wednesday, saying there is structural racism in ACC for disabled people and those needing home support. 

Michael Stewart has been bedridden since 2014 and says the Government refused to have a wheelchair made for him. 

"I've been through the systems for years and nobody ever gave me a hand," he says.

The 63-year-old has several health problems stemming from an ulcer on his right leg when he was just 14 years old.

He says when he moved from a mainstream healthcare provider to Māori provider Te Kōhao Health, he was given the mana to speak up. Now he's one of eight witnesses giving evidence in a hearing of the Waitangi Tribunal.

"If I can help one person, I'm sure I'm not the only fat Māori person around in New Zealand that's been in the same predicament that I'm in now. And if they learn to go to the Māori providers, then they'll get things done for them."

Lady Tureiti, who's the lead claimant, claims the system is racist and shuts out Māori health providers and whānau Māori.

"It's very skewed against us," she says.

Figures provided by Te Kōhao Health show it delivers ACC home care to only five Māori clients out of a database of 8000 registered clients. Yet at least 15 percent of appointments at Te Kōhao Health have an injury to which whānau are entitled to assistance.

"For almost 10 years, Māori providers have been pushed out," Lady Tureiti says.

In a statement, ACC says it's aware of the Waitangi Tribunal hearing this week and respects the importance of the Tribunal process.

Lady Tureiti says there is no recognition of Te Tiriti by ACC, and since ACC changes in 2012 Te Kōhao Health have been forced to be subcontractors under mainstream providers.

"It is small compared to the resources and the power that ACC have, and they should share far more than they are sharing right now," she says.

But at least individuals like Stewart have found their voice to speak out.

This article is part of Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air