Judith Collins says she is "absolutely" against a separate health authority for Māori, despite outcomes being significantly poorer for them.
A major health reform was announced on Wednesday and with it, a new Māori health authority.
But before the announcement, the National Party leader said she will not accept a "separate but equal" approach to health - despite Māori having significantly lower life expectancies, higher rates of smoking and being twice as likely to not pick up a prescription.
"It is simply not acceptable," she told The AM Show co-host Ryan Bridge on Wednesday.
"People need help through the public health system irrespective of their ethnicity, and they should get it."
Bridge pointed out whichever way you look at Aotearoa's health system, it's clear outcomes are poorer for Māori - "so why not help them?"
Collins said stopping people smoking should be the focus, as that's the root cause of most of the issues.
"I don't accept it's all to do with race or anything like it, a lot of it is people's expectations and what they can do for themselves."
Less than an hour after Collins' comments, the reform was announced by Health Minister Andrew Little - and a new Māori Health Authority will be in place within three years.
It will be set up with the power to commission health services, monitor the state of Māori health and develop new policy.
All 20 District Health Boards will also be replaced over three years by one national authority called Health NZ.
The new Crown entity will have four regional divisions. It will be responsible for running hospitals and commissioning primary and community health services.