Casey Costello Hobson's Pledge has taken issue with the Waitangi Tribunal's call for compensation for underfunding Māori health providers as unfairly implying a systemic failure by health professionals, and further excusing Māori from taking responsibility.
The Tribunal's 'Hauora: Report on Stage One of the Health Services and Outcomes Kaupapa Inquiry 2019,' made two key recommendations, that the Crown should consider establishing a Māori primary health authority, which would control and monitor Māori health-related spending and policy, and consider compensation for underfunding of Māori health providers over the last 20 years.
"The tribunal cites health gaps between Māori and everyone else in terms of life expectancy, cancer and heart disease mortality, rheumatic fever rates, asthma hospitalisation, lagging rates of immunisation, sudden death rates and so on, and goes on to say the government is to blame," Ms Costello said.
"If there had been any evidence of Māori being refused treatment or denied support services there may be some sympathy for poor outcomes, but this is not the case.
"The report cites the lower numbers of immunisation. This is a free service that relies on the choice to immunise and the willingness of parents to do so. Any failure to do so is the responsibility of the parents.
"The tribunal determined that there had been a lack of funding for Māori health care without recognising that Māori have access to both Māori primary health providers and to every district hospital. Yet again, rather than encouraging and empowering Māori to take responsibility and accountability for our lives, the clear message is that we are somehow incapable of caring for ourselves.
"Besides, to suggest that a treaty made almost 180 years ago, guaranteeing the same political rights to all New Zealanders, also guarantees the same health outcomes to all New Zealanders, irrespective of their life choices, is the height of absurdity."