Opposition slams Government as it moves to scrap Māori Health Authority

The Government has killed Te Aka Whai Ora - the Māori Health Authority despite pleas and protests from Māori.

Staying true to National's campaign promise, Health Minister Dr Shane Reti scrapped the entity with Parliament sitting under urgency.

"It is a reflection of an approach that failed to put health needs for all at its forefront," he said.

Māori health outcomes are significantly worse than for non-Māori across almost all chronic and infectious diseases - with Māori expected to die seven years before Pākehā.

The Māori Health Authority was set up to tackle this in 2022.

"Eighteen months after that, this infant needed to be up on its feet and walking. Despite best efforts from staff, it was not," said Dr Reti.

But Te Aka Whai Ora board member and Te Rūnanga O Toa Rangatira chief executive Helmut Modlik said they didn't have nearly enough time to remedy decades of disparities.

"Eighteen months is not a reasonable expectation," he said. "It just so happened in this case time was up post-election - end of story."

Labour leader Chris Hipkins said cancelling it without a plan b is "irresponsible".

Māori health advocate Lady Tureiti Moxon filed an urgent claim to the Waitangi Tribunal saying it denies Māori sovereignty over their own health.

A hearing was set to begin on Thursday but the Government jumped the gun.

"The Government has not listened, it has not acted in good faith, and has undermined the whole process of the Waitangi Tribunal," Lady Tureiti said.

Māori health advocate Lady Tureiti Moxon.
Māori health advocate Lady Tureiti Moxon. Photo credit: Newshub

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer took it a step further.

"This is again a desperate Government showing its dictatorship and its traits of being anti-Māori," she said.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon disagreed.

"If you take the Māori Health Authority, we have opposed that since its inception," Luxon said.

The Government is still promising to funnel the same amount of money it spends on Te Aka Whai Ora into grassroots Māori health organisations.

"I'm really pleased to think we might make a difference for Māori health outcomes," Dr Reti said.