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Whānau Ora Model Provides A Blueprint For New Māori Health Authority

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is encouraged by this morning’s announcement of major reforms to the healthcare system, including the establishment of a long-awaited Māori Health Authority, and calls for Government to look to Whānau Ora as a model.

Pouārahi/CEO Helen Leahy says that the announcement is positive news for whānau who for too long have experienced differential treatment, follow up, referrals and outcomes under the current health arrangements. She is pleased that the new authority will be Māori-led and will offer joint decision-making rights on national strategies, policies and plans that affect Māori.

“The proof of the commitment will lie in the detail around the resourcing, the leadership and the accountability approach,” says Ms Leahy. “We are hopeful that this morning’s announcement is a sign that change is on the horizon but it will rely on fulsome and frank dialogue right across our whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori communities to design the framework we need.”

Over the past six years, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu has demonstrated the strength of the Whānau Ora model as the commissioning agency for the South Island, and Ms Leahy believes it provides a blueprint for the Māori Health Authority to follow.

“The nine iwi who hold mana whenua authority across Te Waipounamu have been change-makers in setting the bold direction for a Whānau Ora approach,” says Ms Leahy. “In order to urgently improve outcomes, we would hope that Health NZ and the Māori Health Authority will have sufficient autonomy and real independence to monitor services, address equity, and achieve consistency across delivery.”

“We have heard directly from whānau the dissatisfaction and distress of those the system classifies as ‘unreachable’, simply because has not been equipped to meet their needs,” says Ms Leahy. “These are whānau who have felt locked out of the system because bureaucracy has created too many fences to leap and mazes to navigate. Whānau Ora has helped many whānau to overcome these challenges and these learnings can be applied to the new authority.”

Ms Leahy says that it is crucial the Government looks to the success of the Whānau Ora approach when designing and implementing the new Māori Health Authority, to ensure that no whānau are left behind.

“We want to see universal consistency, which applies to access, quality of outcomes, coverage and reach,” says Ms Leahy. “Whānau should not be missing out because of their postcode or their bank balance.”

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