Christopher Luxon commits to scrapping Māori Health Authority, reallocating $170 million funding to iwi

National leader Christopher Luxon has committed to scrapping the Māori Health Authority and giving its $170 million funding to iwi instead.

Luxon's commitments come after he attacked the wider conversation of co-governance at Rātana on Tuesday calling it divisive and immature.

The National leader doubled down on his views on Wednesday, telling AM co-host Ryan Bridge co-governance is creating two separate systems for Māori and non-Māori. 

Luxon said he had no issues with co-governance when it comes to local iwi working with local government to manage resources such as parks and rivers. But he said on a national level, it's not appropriate because it creates two separate systems. 

When asked whether he viewed the newly established Māori Health Authority as creating two systems, Luxon said yes and vowed to scrap it. 

Bridge then questioned whether it was really a separate system when there wouldn't be different hospitals and the health system is funded to the tune of $15 billion, while the Māori Health Authority gets just $168 million. 

But Luxon said public services should be delivered by one system and target those in need through that. 

"Public services are designed for all New Zealanders and we target New Zealanders and support New Zealanders on the basis of need. 

"What we want to be able to do is target those needs, meet those needs with one system."

Luxon said he was committed to improving the inequality in life expectancy for Māori and non-Māori but said the Health Authority isn't the way to do that. 

"We have real challenges around Māori health outcomes. I fully, fully understand that but over the last five years this government has not delivered a single health outcome and under the Māori Health Authority, by its own admission, it's said for another five years it won't deliver improved outcomes. A decade of no improved outcomes is unacceptable," he said.

"Now we can have one health care system that actually targets people on the basis of need, and that may be through the use of other community organisations as well as Māori or iwi organisations." 

When asked whether he would take the money currently allocated to the Māori Health Authority and give it to iwi to provide health services instead, Luxon said "big time".

"Absolutely," Luxon said. "I think that actually delivering those services - there's not one mode of delivery out of Wellington. Actually delivering those services through community organisations that are closest to the people and to the challenges that are on the ground is the right way to do it. 

"At the moment, so much of our money is lost in the bureaucracy of Wellington. Our health care money at the moment is being spent building mega bureaucracies in Wellington when we believe in localism and devolution and those closest to it should deploy it and actually deliver it. 

"You've got community organisations that can deliver food lunch programs into schools much better than Wellington can. I think Māori health organisations can actually deliver Māori health services a heck of a lot better than what the government can do centrally through Wellington. So one system, one coherent system, innovation within it to target people on the basis of need, delivered through community organisations, fully supportive of that. That's about getting outcomes and that's what I'm passionate about." 

The authority was established to commission services and achieve equitable outcomes for Māori, including substantially lower life expectancy for Māori compared with non-Māori. 

According to Statistics NZ, the life expectancy for Māori is roughly seven years below that of non-Māori.