Māori authority must have ‘power’

April 1, 2021

NZNO supports a fully autonomous Māori Health Authority (MHA) with the power to create, commission and fund health services for Māori, acting chief executive Mairi Lucas says.

“As an organisation, we support the Māori Health Authority, but it must have full authority,” she said.

Differences across Aotearoa

Lucas, who has worked in Māori health for 25 years, said funding and targets had always been problematic. “Not all hauora [health services] are the same, our kawa [protocol] and tikanga [culture] are different across Aotearoa. Our access is different – there is no one-stop shop and different areas’ needs are not the same. These are things that Māori understand, they know the issues because they know the people.”

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists and the New Zealand Medical Association also support full commissioning rights for an MHA, as a path to health equity for Māori.

The health and disability system review recommended an MHA and new entity Health NZ be set up alongside the Ministry of Health (MoH). Health NZ would manage contracts and funding, while the MoH would take a “stewardship” role and build its public health capacity.

However, the review panel was divided over how much authority the proposed MHA should have to fund and commission services for Māori. Review leader Heather Simpson recommended funding powers rest with Health NZ. However, a group of panelists has said only a fully empowered MHA would make a difference to Māori health inequities. Health Minister Andrew Little has said any decisions are still several months away.