PM promises govt will improve Māori health

By Mānia Clarke

The prime minister says improving the quality of Māori health is a priority of the government.  This follows the Waitangi Tribunal hearing currently underway at Ngāruawahia to address health inequalities for Māori. 

Jacinda Ardern is adamant Māori healthcare needs to be better.

“We have to address inequity in health, we have to ensure that we are lifting the life expectancy of Māori and Pasifika and that's an area that the health minister has made a priority,” says Ardern.

The CEO of National Hauora Coalition and claimant, Simon Royal, says health inequities for Māori are a humanitarian crisis.

“Historically there's always been a lack of political will and therefore a failure to hold agencies to account for achieving improved Māori health outcomes,” says Royal.

“We need to do better, that's why for me as Health Minister, I've made equity front and centre of my concern,” says Health Minister David Clark.

Ngā Mataapuna Oranga Managing Director and claimant Janice Kuka further highlights legislative failures.

“The Māori voice was further eroded at a national level in 2016 when the government revoked the requirement for DHBs to have a Māori health plan,” says Kuka.

However the minister is already on it.

“You can see it in the documents I've sent to DHBs in terms of what my requirements for them are in terms of healthcare delivery, to show that they are addressing equity and that they have plans to improve that over time,” he says.

“We are trying to reduce what is a considerable barrier to accessing care and that has been a cost,” says Ardern, “So we've already invested heavily in that in the last Budget.”

The hearing will continue over the next two weeks.