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Crown Is In ‘Active Treaty Breach’ In COVID Response Waitangi Tribunal Agrees With Claimants

The 144 page Haumaru report released by the Waitangi Tribunal has found the Crown is currently in active breach of the Treaty because it pushed ahead on 15 December to the COVID-19 Protection Framework (Traffic Light system) even though it had failed dismally in its vaccine roll out for Māori.

The Tribunal said there has been a lack of appropriate supports for Māori providers on the frontline despite Crown officials acknowledging in the priority hearing that the work of Māori service providers would be a lynchpin of the vaccine rollout.

Delaying releasing Māori data that would have allowed Māori providers to strategically target Māori needing support to vaccinate was another breach compounded by Cabinet ignoring advice from its own officials to adjust the age of the vaccine roll-out for Māori.

The “statistics speak for themselves”* says the Tribunal after the priority inquiry findings have proven that there has been clear prejudice to Māori resulting from a litany of active breaches.

The recommendations to the government include an obligation to urgently provide further funding, resourcing, data, equitable paediatric and booster vaccination roll-out and other urgent support to assist Māori service providers and communities to deliver their continuing pandemic response.

The Tribunal records that of the total 20 deaths to COVID-19, 9 Māori have died (45 per cent), more than any other population group, and insists the government must pursue all of its recommendations, “to the fullest extent practicable and as matters of extreme urgency”.

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It says ”the Crown will remain in active Treaty breach until it ensures an equitable vaccine rollout, which protects the Māori population equitably.”

“As the absolute authority on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Tribunal has made strong, and unequivocal recommendations that will make a real difference to power sharing and resource sharing between Māori and the Crown,” says Lady Tureiti Moxon, Chair of the National Urban Māori Authority.

The leader, alongside affiliate, Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency whose 96 providers have vaccinated almost half a million New Zealanders of every ethnicity was one of 40 claimants challenging the government with compelling and comprehensive evidence on where Treaty partnership obligations with Māori have not been honoured which has placed lives at risk.

Undercounting Māori data and the integrity of monitoring was another area of concern for the Tribunal. It urged the government to prioritise the quality of collection of both qualitative and quantitative measurements of Māori health outcomes.

“The Waitangi Tribunal has reminded us all of the recommendations the watershed 2019 Hauora Report that have not been addressed and now the Crown is in active Treaty breach,” Moxon says.

Radically improving engagement to give effect to tino rangatiratanga through direct access of Māori to Cabinet and key Ministers was another pragmatic point made.

“We absolutely agree with all the recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal – they’re strong and deliberate and will actually make a difference in the health and wellbeing of our people.”

For more information go to:

* Recomendations page 18 Haumaru Report dated 21 December 2021

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