'More work to be done' just ahead of Māori Health Authority announcement - Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare

Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare says new details on how the Māori Health Authority will work, due out this Wednesday, will give tangata whenua a "sense of optimism". 

Cabinet advice to Minister of Health Andrew Little obtained by Newshub Nation has outlined two options - the first is an independent statutory entity with powers to commission its own services separately from the Ministry of Health and the other new proposed entity, Health NZ; the other a Crown entity that consults with Māori.

Each has its advantages, according to the advice - an independent entity would likely get more buy-in from Māori, while a Crown entity would have more integration with Health NZ and the Ministry of Health. 

Either way, the advice says there should be iwi partnership boards with control over local health provision for Māori. 

Henare, who has responsibility for Māori health, said either way Māori will get a health system by and for them.

"The challenge is as we get into the details about what does that look like, and what they're able to do - we're confident that come Wednesday, when the announcement is made, our people will continue to have a sense of optimism, but know that there's some more work to be done," he told Newshub Nation on Saturday morning. 

"We know we need to do something major to turn the dial for Māori health outcomes."

Health Minister Andrew Little has previously promised a system that "genuinely has the authority to really make a difference for Māori".

As for funding, Henare said it would need to be "equitable" or it "won't get the outcomes" required. Despite making up only 16 percent of the population, Māori account for about 25 percent of the health service's workload, due to their poorer overall health. 

"I expect they will have a lot of money, I do. I'm not going to commit to a number now."

Henare would like iwi partnership boards, if they happen, to be entrenched in law so a future Government couldn't just take them away on a whim. 

"That's always been my expectation... that's the only way that should any future Government come in, they can't easily wipe it off the table. It's got to go through a process in the House."

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