Coronavirus: Waitangi Tribunal says COVID-19 response breached Te Tiriti

The Waitangi Tribunal has released a scathing ruling of the Government's COVID-19 response and vaccine rollout, saying Māori were put at risk.

The tribunal held an urgent hearing early this month, and on Tuesday morning released its findings.

The tribunal says Cabinet's decision to go against official advice and not prioritise Māori in the vaccine rollout breached the Treaty principles of active protection and equity.

The Government has said it instead opted for a whānau-centred approach.

The tribunal, in its report, said it cannot understand why it would go for this against all expert advice.

While accepting a shift to the traffic light system was necessary, it found the rapid transition put Māori at risk.

The decision also put Māori health providers under extreme pressure on limited resource - pressure created by a delayed rollout, and years of chronic underfunding by the state.

It also said the Crown did not consistently engage with Māori to the fullest extent practicable on its pandemic response, a breach of the principle of partnership.

It recommended better ethnicity data collection, better resourcing and support for Māori providers and communities, and a more equitable rollout for booster shots and paediatric vaccines.