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Whānau Ora Says New Māori Health Authority Needs Teeth To Implement The Bold Transformation

“An independent, empowered and empowering Māori Health Authority must have the teeth to implement the bold transformation required to improve health outcomes for Māori,” says Helen Leahy, Pouārahi of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency (South Island).

“I celebrate and tautoko the ‘alternate view’ in the final report of the Health and Disability Services Review that a ‘transformational future’ for Māori health in Aotearoa will be based on an indigenous commissioning framework. I too urge the Government to be more ambitious ‘to alter the trajectory of Māori health inequities’,” said MsLeahy.

“Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, likewise, is happy to take a lead from the “alternate view”. We will use this report as a basis for discussing with Whānau Ora entities right across Te Waipounamu how we can plan for the success of an indigenous Māori commissioning framework. There is no time for deferring this argument again or waiting for consensus to emerge.”

The “alternate view” group criticises the limited scope of proposed changes in the report, arguing that “universalist approaches” have not worked for Māori; and that the Māori Health Authority has only “a limited commissioning role” holding a “small and marginal budget”.

“We are pleased that the review acknowledges that a system which doesn’t reflect matauranga Māori or enhance rangatiratanga will not be effective and improve health and wellbeing for Māori,” said Ms Leahy.

“The Review explicitly promotes opportunities for Māori to exercise their rangatiratanga, mana motuhake and whānau rangatiratanga. It encourages mātauranga Māori practices and tikanga; urges progress in updating the equity clauses in legislation; and calls out the need to address institutional racism and other forms of discrimination as well as growing the Māori Health workforce.

“These goals are all well overdue, but nevertheless very positive signs of the need for culturally safe, competent and effective approaches to engage with whānau, hapū and iwi in ways that will advance wellness.

“But the best intentions will only ever remain intentions in name, unless the Māori Health Authority holds central appropriation of funds, iwi/Māori are supported in 50/50 governance arrangements to oversee commissioning; and a Mātauranga Māori commissioning frame is applied which builds on the Whānau Ora Commissioning model.

“Multiple research findings now recognise the role of Whānau Ora, in that “the capacity of Māori organisations to respond to the needs of their communities, which grew in response to the reforms of the public health system in the 1990s, has been further expanded through the investment, commissioning structures and leadership that have resulted from the approach (Whānau Ora: an indigenous policy success story, ResearchGate, April 2019, Verna Smith, Amohia Boulton and Charlotte Moore).

“The authors of the alternate view stepped up into the space which emerged from a lack of consensus on the funding power and commissioning mandate of the Māori Health Authority.

The Alternate View was written by Ms Shelley Campbell, Professor Peter Crampton, Dr Lloyd McCann, Dr Win Bennett (majority Panel members) and Associate Professor Sue Crengle, Associate Professor Terryann Clark, Dr Dale Bramley, Ms Takutai Moana Natasha Kemp, Ms Linda Ngata, Ms Sharon Shea (Maori Expert Advisory Group)

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