Shane Reti on COVID-19, iwi checkpoints and a Ngāpuhi settlement

National Party's health spokesman Dr Shane Reti has told Newshub's The Hui that he supports the COVID-19 elimination strategy, iwi checkpoints assisted by police and settling with Ngāpuhi on a hapū by hapū basis, but doesn't support a separate Māori health authority. 

On being overlooked for the health spokesman position by the former National Party leadership he said: "I've always said not to look too closely at the number on my back. It's not the number that I wear, it's the impact I can have that actually matters."

Dr Shane Reti was promoted to National's front bench last month by new leader Judith Collins.

The party has been criticised recently over deputy leader Gerry Brownlee conspiratorial tone regarding the Government's response to the recent resurgence of community transmission. However Dr Reti has been praised for his bi-partisan approach to dealing with the outbreak.

But he says urgent action needs to be taken to ensure the health system can cope with the future impacts of coronavirus.

"There are long-term implications for people who have contracted coronavirus that the health system will also need to absorb quite on top of the backlog - the elective surgery we haven't been able to do, all of that all needs to come together, be well-resourced well financed and quickly on a plan going forward."

The latest outbreak is centred in south Auckland and has predominantly affected Pasifika and Māori. Dr Reti says these communities need to be supported to help protect themselves.

"We only have four levers that citizens can pull; PPE, contact tracing, testing and surveillance. And so, how we empower, can capacity build Māori and Pasifika to utilise those four tools - that's our challenge going forward."

The Government's Health and Disability Review has recommended establishing a new Māori health authority to monitor inequity and advise on Māori health policy. But Dr Reti isn't supportive of the proposal.

"The two main concerns are first of all there's no obvious funding and commissioning going with that, so nice to say, where's the clout? Secondly I have concerns that the people who will fill this agency may well be cannibalised from Whānau Ora, and that would be a shame".

Instead he believes DHBs should be given targets for Māori that they report on annually.

 On whether or not he supported a hapū by hapū settlement for Ngāpuhi, Dr Reti's answer was simple. 


Watch the full interview.