Ministers visiting Rotorua have explained what Māori can expect from the $242 million set aside for Māori health from Budget 2021 and announced more funding for Māori while here.
Associate Māori Health Minister Peeni Henare spoke about the Māori Health Authority and other health initiatives at a visit to Korowai Aroha and a post-Budget breakfast at Te Puia yesterday. He was joined by fellow Māori ministers Willie Jackson and Kelvin Davis. The visit to Korowai Aroha, a kaupapa Māori Health Service, followed Jackson's announcement of a $15m funding boost over two years for Māori tourism operators impacted by Covid-19.
Jackson announced the $15m investment in Rotorua yesterday as part of an overall plan to boost New Zealand's economic recovery post-pandemic.
"Investing in this sector helps bring back jobs and supports small businesses in areas like Rotorua," Jackson said.
Speaking at Korowai Aroha about the $242m set aside for Māori health, Henare said $100m of the fund was to set up the Māori Health Authority - to "get a whare and turn the lights on".
He set out a timeline to show "how fast our waka is going".
The legislation for the Māori Health Authority would be "put in concrete" in July or August this year, with legislation passing in March or April next year.
This was an important measure because if the government changed, it would take the majority of the house to get rid of it.
"They can't just wipe the table clean."
He was looking for input from Māori health providers, and said it was important to get the right person to lead the agency and manage relationships in this "uncharted space".
"The Māori Health Authority can't just be a whare in Wellington. It's got to be accountable to our people, to tribes, hapū, whānau, organisations like yourselves."
He asked Māori health providers where they saw themselves in the new health space for Māori.
"We've got a big job ahead in building the Māori Health Authority. Our people see [Māori health providers] in this journey and beyond. We're going through a stage to have input from yourselves and others to make sure those who are leading this kaupapa hear the right voices and things to enable them to make decisions."
Henare said he did not simply want more clinical services and at the post-Budget breakfast, he said he wanted to put the appointment process back in the hands of Māori.
"If we continue to do the same Crown appointment process, you're going to get the same results. So we want [it] back in the hands of our people."
At Korowai Aroha, Henare said there was $124m to continue to support kaupapa Māori hauora projects, which was to prepare for the upcoming changes - "to support you to reimagine yourself in that space and to do it in a very unique Māori way".
Of the allocated fund, $17.8m was to support iwi/Māori partnership boards.
"What we need to do is strengthen our iwi to be able to decide on a model that suits them and reach the health aspirations of their whānau."
The idea was to "turn the lights on for the Māori Health Authority on July 1 next year".
"We know we're not going to hit a home run straight away, but we must have the foundations in the ground that will allow us to continue to build a strong whare.
"$242m is only a start. We know that it's going to take a lot more to turn the inequities over time.
"We have to build a village. As we look towards the budget and what we're doing, we can't build it on its own, because that will be in contradiction to what we do every day as Māori health providers. We don't just provide health, we provide whānau ora, education, all these other things in the complex lives of our whānau."
Henare said Māori had been disproportionately represented in health stats for too long.
"These initiatives by Māori for Māori, is a step towards rectifying one of the many issues our people face."
Māori Crown Relations Minister Kelvin Davis acknowledged words such as separatism and apartheid had been used when speaking about the Māori Health Authority.
"[It's] not apartheid, it's partnership," Davis said.
Davis said by investing more than $1 billion into Māori initiatives, the Government showed it was taking its partnership with them seriously.
"If you want to make real transformational change in our country, then you have to be prepared to elevate those who are less likely to own a home, are unemployed, suffer from poor health outcome and struggle to make ends meet," he said.
"We are all proud of the Budget package the Māori Ministers delivered in 2021, it secures our recovery from Covid-19 while investing in our people."
At the post-Budget breakfast, Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson said he was pleased with the $1.1b of targeted funding for Māori in Budget 2021.
He said previous governments allocated less than 1 per cent but this year the investment equated to 7 per cent of the new spend.
"That's how good it is."
Jackson said their kaupapa was to "get as much funding and resourcing for our people as possible".
"We've seen by Māori for Māori approaches work.
"We are getting pūtea (funding) now for kaupapa Māori initiatives. We've seen the whānau ora approach. We've seen what it can do and deliver. We saw that through Covid-19 in terms of the providers. It was a great example of what we could do but we also know that's a small group, and our job is to increase those groups and that money.
"$1.1b is a huge start for us."