Health Minister Andrew Little paid an emotional tribute to the healthcare worker who performed an operation on his son some years ago, during his speech at Parliament this morning.
Little went off-script at the end of his speech to thank the "heroes" in New Zealand's healthcare sector.
In making his announcement of a major reform of the health sector this morning, he said there were a number of people on his mind.
"I think of the New Zealanders who go to their doctor [who] sometimes, can wait days and weeks for an appointment," he told a gathering of close to 300 people.
"I think of the father of the infant boy sitting on the theatre operating table getting the planned care that had been arranged for some time.
"I know, I have been that father and one of the heroes that I looked at on that day is in this room today."
Little appeared emotional when he turned to one of the audience members for a moment.
Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare, who was also at the event, spoke about Māori who are missing out in the current system.
"Many Māori don't like going to the doctor. And it's not because we don't care about our health, or the health of our whanau. It's because our experiences of the Health system, the experiences of our parents and grandparents have been negative," he said.
"That is why we must change."
Little agreed, and said today's announcements were a challenge for the health sector, but also the nation as a whole.
"It is time for us to rise to the challenge and to do better than we're doing – not just about health care, about wellbeing."
Asked how personal today's announcement was, given his comments about his son, Little said: "We're all users of the healthcare system".
He revealed that he had a "little procedure" before Christmas, just after he became Health Minister.
"Someone accused me of doing a secret consumer test," he joked.
"I feel very proud to stand alongside my colleagues to be part of a set of decisions that I think are about real transformation."