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Shutting Down Jurisdiction Of Waitangi Tribunal “Power Play” By Crown

Purposely shutting down the jurisdiction of the Waitangi Tribunal through the calculated expediting of the Bill to disestablish Te Aka Whai Ora – Māori Health Authority will not be the end of the matter.

Lead claimants are resolute in the face of the power play that is in breach of the principles of Te Tiriti. The effect of the Bill with the removal denies Māori sovereignty over their own health and bodies.

Minister Reiti’s office disclosed the timing of the Bill to media first tonight just 3 days before the urgent Waitangi Tribunal inquiry was timetabled to begin. It was set down for 29 February to 1 March 2024.

“It's not unexpected that the Crown would table the Bill before Parliament only days out from the Waitangi Tribunal hearing,” said Lady Tureiti Moxon, MD of Te Kōhao Health, and Chair of the National Urban Māori Authority.

Wai 3307 involved the time and expense of 4 claimants and 28 interested parties filing submissions and evidence since 18 December 2023. The Crown never confirmed the actual date of tabling until now.

“Legally this continues to remain a live issue because the Waitangi Tribunal will inquire into the actions of the Crown following the passing of the legislation,” Moxon said.

Crown submissions to the Waitangi Tribunal made no claim that it engaged with Māori before making the significant policy change to remove a Tino Rangatira-compliant structure – the first one ever.

Instead, the Crown confirmed it was a unilateral decision based on political parties campaigning in the General Election. It believes it can decide what to do in relation to Māori health.

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This conflicts with the recommendation for a Māori Health Authority in the 2019 Hauora Report by the Waitangi Tribunal based on 16,000 pages of evidence that was tested with 44 witnesses.

It said, “Māori are guaranteed tino rangatiratanga rights over hauora Māori, which encompasses Māori organisations and their models of care, and Māori people who need to access these models of care. In the present system, hauora Māori is considered lesser in value or priority, even though hauora Māori is in greater need of active support. This dynamic is inconsistent with the Treaty.”

He Korowai Oranga Māori Health Strategy was also never implemented by 24 DHB’s in this country,” Moxon said.

“Unless these plans are implemented and adhere to Te Tiriti they’re never, ever going to change outcomes. If you always do what you’ve done, you’ll always get what you’ve got.”

Successive governments for decades have known about Māori inequity in health and the grim statistics.

“Like dying between 8-9 years earlier, rheumatic heart disease mortality that’s 8 and a half times higher, lung cancer mortality for wahine that’s 5 times higher and 60 percent higher hospitalisations than any other cohort.”

Both lead claimants are naturally disappointed with the twists and turns of events in Wai 3307 yet remain resilient believing that eventually they’ll get there in the end.

”We followed the rules, we followed the processes, and we had all the compelling evidence that the health system wasn't working, yet still it was not good enough,” says Janice Kuka, MD of Ngā Mataapuna Oranga PHO and Chair of Turuki Health.

“I’ve always taken the long-term view. You just can’t be surprised by this. It has happened to us throughout history.”

It’s been an 18-year journey to date for Moxon and Kuka as their first claim on health inequity was filed back in 2005.

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