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Health partnership between Maori and Crown

1 August 2000 Media Statement

Health partnership between Maori and Crown

Health Minister Annette King today endorsed establishment of a partnership between Maori and the Crown that will see Maori health issues addressed at all levels of the health system.

"This model gives practical effect to this Government's commitment to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, and will see relationships built at each level of the health system from the Minister to service delivery."

Mrs King made her comments when releasing more Cabinet papers relating to the Treaty of Waitangi in health legislation, partnerships with Maori, and Maori representation on DHB boards.

She said the inclusion of a Treaty of Waitangi clause in the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Bill would have a significant impact in terms of reducing disparities in health between Maori and other New Zealanders. Legislative provisions would empower DHBs to meet Maori health objectives, she said.

"By opening the door to enforcement in law of the Crown's responsibility to Maori, the Government is making its commitment to Maori health aspirations very clear. This Government accepts that Maori have status as indigenous people and Treaty partners, and has provided an approach that ensures Maori have a say over the delivery of their own health and disability services."

Mrs King said DHB boards would have "an obligatory partnership" to enable mana whenua to participate in and contribute to the development of strategic planning for Maori health improvement in their regions.

"There will also be other arrangements, including memoranda of understanding or relationship agreements between the DHB and other Maori organisations, such as Maori development organisations, to ensure Maori generally have the opportunity to contribute to and participate in strategies to improve Maori health.

"DHBs will be required to continue to build capacity for Maori to provide for their own health and disability needs as well as to improve the delivery of mainstream services to Maori."

Mrs King said the Government was committed to protecting gains in Maori provider development, and to building on those gains.

"It is envisaged Maori development organisations will evolve over time, taking on more responsibility as their capacity grows. Potentially they could evolve into organisations responsible for a wide range of services for Maori, not just health."

Mrs King said Maori would also participate on DHB boards, with Maori membership generally reflecting the proportion of Maori in the DHB population. There would be at least two Maori on each board, with ministerial appointments used to supplement the results of DHB elections if necessary.

"There will be some additional costs incurred through the development of new partnership agreements, but the benefits will far outweigh the costs.

"Effective partnerships will lead to more effective services for Maori, greater participation by Maori in the health workforce, and better access for Maori to health services."

Mrs King said the Ministry of Health had been holding a series of hui around the country about health sector changes, and many issues raised by Maori at these hui had influenced the Government's decisions.

A national Maori forum would be convened at least once a year to provide Maori representatives with an opportunity to discuss Maori health policy directions with the Minister of Health.

ENDS

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