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Health Minister must not fail Maori twice


Georgina te Heuheu National Maori Affairs Spokesperson

26 October 2001

Health Minister must not fail Maori twice

As the Minister of Health makes her recommendations to Cabinet on the 39 Maori appointments to District Health Boards, she must not fail Maori again, National's Maori Affairs spokesperson Georgina te Heuheu said today.

In July Health Minister Annette King said that this year's first-past-the-post system of voting for District Health Boards was 'not perfect'. This has turned out to be an understatement for Maori.

"The fact is the elections for Maori were an absolute failure of the Government's making. The Minister of Health knew from the outset that for Maori to be elected on a first-past-the-post basis, it would require engaging Maori in a more meaningful way than sending out voting forms in the post."

Mrs te Heuheu says the Government has been lazy.

"Rather than working hard to increase the number of Maori standing for positions and voting in the elections, the Government decided from the outset just to use the appointments process it so strongly criticised, and seemingly wanted to get rid of.

"Now the Minister has the job of appointing 39 people and she must front up and explain the process she will be using to select these people.

"New Zealanders are interested in how the Minister is going to ensure her appointments will give local representation. The public was led to believe one of the reasons given to moving to a local election system was transparency. Now there is a public expectation that the same transparency will be applied in making these appointments."

Mrs te Heuheu questioned how the Government's magic number of two Maori members per district health board, reflects the 'more democratic health system' the Minister promised New Zealanders in August 2000.

"The Government's magic number of two doesn't seem to have any logical basis, and certainly doesn't reflect the Minister's statement in August 2000 where she said Maori membership would generally reflect 'the proportion of Maori in the DHB population'."

Mrs te Heuheu said the percentage of Maori as a portion of the population varies considerably from area to area, with Maori making up more than 50% of the population in the Far North, the East Coast and the Bay of Plenty.

"Surely two Maori members on these Boards does not reflect a more democratic health system for Maori in these areas," Mrs te Heuheu said.

Ends


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