Māori Health Authority model could be applied to education and justice, consultation suggests

It has been suggested in consultation feedback published by the Government that the Māori Health Authority model could be applied to education and justice.

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson on Friday released the feedback from the first phase of targeted engagement with Māori on developing a plan to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The previous National-led Government signed UNDRIP in 2010 and committed to developing a Declaration Plan. New Zealand is one of 148 countries that support UNDRIP.

It's not to be confused with He Puapua, a controversial think-piece document commissioned by the Government in 2019 that set out a potential roadmap to co-governance between the Crown and Māori by 2040. 

Opposition parties National and ACT have long warned that implementing ideas from He Puapua could lead to a divided society. 

Former National leader Judith Collins accused the Government of "separatism by stealth" for introducing a Māori Health Authority, one of the recommendations in He Puapua. Both National and ACT have pledged to scrap it.

ACT leader David Seymour last month announced that a referendum on Māori co-governance - which he likened to an "unequal society" - was a bottom line for any coalition negotiations in 2023

National leader Christopher Luxon has ruled out a referendum, but is opposed to the Government's centralised co-governance arrangements, like the new Māori Health Authority and Three Waters

"I have concerns about co-governance as it moves from management of local natural resources into the delivery of public services," Luxon said last month. 

While the Government has adopted some ideas from He Puapua, it has ruled out other ideas, such as a separate Māori Parliament

"He Puapua is not the Declaration Plan, nor is it Government policy," Jackson said. "Reports like He Puapua and Matike Mai are part of a long history of reports on addressing Indigenous rights in Aotearoa and should be seen in that context."

Pictured: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson.
Pictured: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson. Photo credit: Getty Images

In July last year, Jackson announced plans to consult with Māori on how the Government could meet its obligation to UNDRIP, before engaging with the wider public. 

"We've now completed the first stage of the two-step engagement process to develop a Declaration Plan. This has provided us with valuable feedback to help with drafting a Declaration Plan that we will then take out to wider consultation," Jackson said. 

"The drafting of the Declaration Plan will now commence and will be undertaken in partnership with the National Iwi Chairs Forum's Pou Tikanga and the Human Rights Commission over the next couple of months before being shared for public consultation later this year."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, speaking in Japan on Friday, said she was confident that New Zealanders could debate the issues raised respectively. 

"I'm confident that as a nation we are not the same as we were 10 years ago. But that doesn't mean that we won't have good, robust debate. We can do that, but we can also do it respectfully, and that's certainly what we are championing as a Government." 

What feedback did the Government receive?

The Government's new Māori Health Authority is cited in the consultation feedback document as a successful model for how Māori could improve their own outcomes, particularly in education and justice. 

"The establishment of a Māori Health Authority was seen as a positive step and a promising model, although some participants questioned whether it would have the power and resources necessary to be effective," the consultation document reads. 

"The request for what was described as an independent Kaupapa Māori Education Authority was consistent across a number of engagements.

"There was often comment by participants that the establishment of the new Māori Health Authority could give a sign for a potential approach in the justice system."

The Government already has plans to introduce legislation in early 2023 to revamp Māori education, with the aim of seeing 30 percent of Māori learners participating in Kaupapa Māori/Māori medium education - where students are taught all or some curriculum subjects in the Māori language for at least 51 percent of the time - by 2040.

Māori Health Authority model could be applied to education and justice, consultation suggests
Photo credit: Supplied

"The inability of the current education system to create bilingual, bicultural citizens who have a knowledge of and value Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Declaration consistently in their work was a common theme in some workshops," the consultation document reads. 

"Many participants explained the lack of recognition or weight given to Māori perspectives often stemmed from a lack of awareness amongst the non-Māori population of the importance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Māori rights more generally."

It was also expressed that many Māori "felt burdened by the need to constantly advocate for their views and justify their existence". 

"Some participants questioned the legitimacy of the Government given its failings to uphold rangatiratanga and pointed to specific examples such as the Crown's Treaty settlement process which was viewed by some as having created division amongst claimant groups and did not uphold rangatiratanga.

"Some participants noted that the existing Westminster system needed to be overhauled and that constitutional transformation must occur. Some participants also noted that government needed to eliminate inequality and address racism.

"Rights and access to water was discussed by some participants, as they felt discriminated from the spaces which are meant to recognise Māori rights to water."