Māori health experts are applauding this morning's announcement for a stand-alone Māori Health Authority and what they say is a long-overdue road to recovery.
National Urban Māori Authority (NUMA) leaders John Tamihere and Lady Tureiti Moxon said it was "the shot in the arm needed for Māori to finally get equity health care".
Health Minister Andrew Little announced this morning:
• All DHBs will be replaced by one national health body, Health New Zealand, to fund and run the health system
• A new Māori Health Authority will be created, with power to commission health services
• The Ministry of Health will become an advisory and policy agency only
• A new Public Health agency will be created within the Ministry of Health
Little's announcement meant finally recognising a "by Māori, for Māori, to Māori" approach.
It means that Māori are finally able to have their own governance in health decision making, as a reflection of tino rangatiratanga and the Treaty of Waitangi.
Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare said: "Many Māori do not like going to the doctor because our experiences, our parents' experiences and our grandparents' experiences of the health system have been a negative one."
"That is why we must change and transform our Māori health system."
A Māori Health Authority will be responsible for ensuring the health system is performing for Māori through:
• Partnership with the ministry to advise ministers on hauora Māori
• Funding innovative health services targeted at Māori (including kaupapa Māori services)
• Working with Health New Zealand to plan and monitor the delivery of all health services
• Iwi-Māori partnership boards will have an explicit, formal role – including agreeing local priorities with Health NZ
• Health NZ will be responsible for improving Māori health outcomes and equity through all of its operational functions at national, regional and local levels
• The Ministry of Health will continue to monitor how the system is delivering for Māori overall, partnering with the Māori Health Authority.
The National Hauora Coalition (NHC) welcomes the near future establishment of an Independent Hauora Agency. NHC chief executive Simon Royal commented: "in the last 20 years, we as a country have spent over $200 billion on health which has improved health outcomes for every population group, except for Māori".
"Doing more of the same is not good enough as Māori are dying every day because of failings in our health system."
Royal said the Waitangi Tribunal, through its Health Services and Outcomes Kaupapa Inquiry highlighted the serious challenges the nation faces in being seen as a place where fairness and equity are a reality.
The tribunal found that being Māori in Aotearoa means dying eight years sooner than non-Māori.
Māori are 170 per cent more likely to die of cancer, 200 per cent more likely to be hospitalised for asthma, and 500 per cent higher chance of sudden unexplained death for Māori babies.
"The list goes on."
A study done by Counties Manukau DHB (CMDHB) in 2009 revealed if Māori and Pasifika populations experienced the same level of health as the rest of the population, it would save CMDHB alone $62 million a year in direct healthcare costs.
The Māori Health Authority will help strengthen kaupapa Māori services, build a stronger Māori workforce and provider network, as well as foster innovation in services and models that deliver better outcomes for Māori.
Over the coming months, the Government will work with Māori on the design of the Māori Health Authority and a range of other features of New Zealand's future health system.
This includes how Iwi-Māori partnership boards are established, operate, and define their rohe.
An interim Māori Health Authority will be set up as a departmental agency within the Ministry of Health by the end of 2021.