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'Faceless Bureaucracy Continues To Fail Māori': Closing Submissions Reveal Crown COVID Response Breached Te Tiriti

On the closing day of submissions yesterday before the Waitangi Tribunal, despite the cross-examination admission by Dr Ashley Bloomfield that Māori providers were “absolutely the gold standard,” the Crown system remains inherently racist.

The weight of the compelling and comprehensive evidence on the government’s COVID response reveals a bureaucracy running the country that continues to fail its Treaty partnership obligations with Māori.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her team of elected Ministers must wrestle back control from the faceless unelected bureaucrats.

Blocking access to Māori data, not affording Māori autonomy to determine their own approaches, delays to resourcing and inequitable funding were some of the criticisms made of the Crown by 31 claimants including the National Urban Māori Authority.

“Despite the recent win in the High Court by Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency in terms of data sharing, here we are still having to go to the Waitangi Tribunal to put our case forward in our urgent claim,” said Lady Tureiti Moxon, Chair of the National Urban Māori Authority.

She warns of the “tsunami” heading towards unvaccinated Māori and Māori providers due to the relaxing of borders between Auckland and the rest of Aotearoa in one week, followed by the Australian bubble opening up on 16 January.

“It’s short sighted for the Crown to open up the borders so close to Christmas,” she says.

“Those cases of Māori getting COVID aren’t getting any less, it’ll be more. We are also leading in the number of hospital admissions. It’s exposing all our unvaccinated under 12 year olds – who will be even more at risk.”

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The government’s clear prioritisation of economic interests over the lives of Māori was also revealed in the stark inequitable contrast between funding allocations for business versus Māori health.

Evidence presented by the National Urban Māori Authority showed that the business sector every fortnight receives $1 Billion funding versus the one-off $120 Million allocated for Māori vaccination.

New Zealanders were not told by the Crown that most of this small fund went to private health corporations – not to Māori providers battling COVID on the frontline who most need it.

The Waitangi Tribunal also heard that the Crown cannot continue telling Māori what to do.

It needed to hand over information so Māori could determine the right response as they had the right to choose what path worked best for them.

Releasing information widely to all the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agencies and Māori providers matched by resources that valued Māori lives as much as big business was desperately needed at the frontline.

“Unless the Crown is willing to engage with both Whānau Ora Commissioning Agencies and Māori providers on the ground, it’s very difficult for us to take control over our own health because the power and resources remain with the Crown.”

Lady Tureiti holds ongoing concerns about the capacity of the already fatigued and stretched workforce over Christmas.

“Every day there are a growing number of people self-isolating. Many Māori providers who have been working hard battling this for 2 years are taking a break. Who will be looking after those whānau then?” she said.

© Scoop Media

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