Hobson's Pledge Submission: Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill

Hobson’s Pledge wants all New Zealanders to benefit from quality health care. Yes, there are New Zealanders with complex needs who require significant help, but this isn’t restricted to just those with a Maori ancestor. The causes are usually multifaceted and can certainly not all be blamed on the health system.

8th December 2021
To the Committee Secretariat
Pae Ora Legislation Committee
Parliament Buildings
By website or email:  [email protected]

To the Minister of Health, Hon Andrew Little
Email: [email protected]


This submission is being made by Hobson’s Pledge, a community organisation representing 44,000 (and growing) firm believers in democracy and the legal equality of all citizens. We are New Zealanders who want a united, peaceful and a prosperous future for our country.   
As Governor Hobson said on the signing of that outstanding document, the Treaty of Waitangi on 6th February 1840: He iwi tahi tatou : We are now one people.”
Let no government destroy that vision.

Our Common Humanity
Hobson's Pledge is committed to fighting any laws or policies which aim to divide New Zealanders along racial lines, and in particular creating artificial divisions between Maori and all other New Zealanders. So with regard to the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill (the Bill), the following fundamental truth is especially apt:

 “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die?”  William Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice”

 These famous lines highlight the common humanity of all people. All humans bleed the colour red and, notwithstanding religious or cultural beliefs, they have the same basic physical and psychological needs, yet the New Zealand Government is forcing an identity-based public health system on us: 

  • One in which having a Maori ancestor (amongst others) will entitle a citizen to separate, preferential health treatment, no matter their need or prognosis; and
  • One in which health decisions for all New Zealanders may be supervised, approved or vetoed by race-based appointees.

No Mandate
Not only is the Crown neglecting its obligations under the actual Treaty of Waitangi to accord all citizens equal rights, it is corrupting the legislative process by not allowing Parliament’s Health select committee to process submissions and the Bill; instead it has appointed a bespoke committee which one can only assume is there to minimise any possible amendments being made to the Bill.

New Zealanders have certainly not been asked nor have they agreed to overthrow our democratic constitution and human rights commitments. Therefore the current Government has no mandate to implement this apartheid health regime. 

Apartheid is Abhorrent
In the past, New Zealand has taken great pride in fighting apartheid in South Africa and doing what we can to reduce human rights abuses around the world, so it seems repugnant that our Government is now institutionalising both racial preferment and racial discrimination in our publicly funded health system.

It’s also absurd that the Government is so determined to divide New Zealanders on such nebulous lines considering the considerable mixing of bloodlines and cultures in our country, forcing us to identify as “Maori” or that other condescending and discriminatory descriptor − “non-Maori”.

Not only does this reek of disrespect to all our ancestors, it embodies the ultimate racism and abuse of human rights. This Bill is all about entitlement for citizens who can (or will they be forced to……?) identify as “Maori”. Meanwhile, “other New Zealanders” barely get a mention and their access to fair and reasonable healthcare appears to be at great risk of unelected, unaccountable political interference.

Pae Ora is a Racist Construct
As currently drafted, the Bill provides that Pae Ora’s Boards would be unelected and not answerable to the people. The governance appointments look set to prioritize expertise in the re-interpreted/re-invented Treaty of Waitangi and the ever-evolving and undefined Maori tikanga over proven expertise in management and public health.

Meanwhile the elected Minister of Health is to be subservient to a plethora of Hauora Maori Advisory committees and Iwi-Maori Partnership Boards. These unaccountable officials are to be given considerable and unreasonable influence and control over the policy and funding of what is to be the general health authority (Health NZ) for “other New Zealanders”.

There is every implication that this new, separatist health system is mainly about controlling and preventing those without a Maori ancestor from having fair and reasonable healthcare.

Insulting to Health Professionals & Maori
Suggesting that this extreme step is necessary because some Maori claim to have been systemically discriminated against in our health system is an insult to all our medical professionals who have taken the Hippocratic Oath. If only the Government and the bureaucracy would also swear to “First, do no harm”.

The Bill also insults the majority of Maori who are quite capable of thinking for themselves, and living healthily and successfully within our country and the wider world.

Meeting Actual Needs
Hobson’s Pledge wants all New Zealanders to benefit from quality health care. Yes, there are New Zealanders with complex needs who require significant help, but this isn’t restricted to just those with a Maori ancestor. The causes are usually multifaceted and can certainly not all be blamed on the health system. There may be specific areas or communities where tailored-made solutions need to be created, but this should not be at the expense of the total health system and must not be restricted to just those identifying as Maori.

The Government can’t simply ignore or legislate away the natural constraints imposed by geographical locations, demographic spread, concentrations of expertise in centres with a particular medical focus, the need for cost-effective delivery of services or the inequitable input of genes, anti-natal/maternal care, family, lifestyle, personal effort, choices and accidents/luck. These factors affect many, and are not restricted to one ancestral line.

Even the 2019 Health and Disability System Review, commissioned by the Government to ensure our future system achieves better and more equitable health and wellbeing outcomes for all New Zealanders, stated that:

“Although many people continue to consider health care in the context of clinical and medical care only, it is widely acknowledged that this accounts for only about 20% of a person’s health and wellbeing status. The other 80% arises from the conditions in which a person is born, grows, lives, works, and ages, including physical, cultural and natural environments, housing, education, the distribution of power and income, and health behaviours. The impacts of these can accumulate over a lifetime.” (p.25)

Government departments may be able to facilitate welfare, environmental, lifestyle and educational improvements; however history has proven time and time again that most beneficial change comes from within the family and from the personal desire for change.

The hard reality is − that it is beyond the ability of any government to achieve equal health outcomes for its entire population, no matter how much is spent.

Appalling Timing : Appalling Waste
The world is in the midst of a challenging and sometimes confusing pandemic. New Zealanders don’t know what their immediate future holds, but most accept that our public health system is not adequately prepared for any extra demand. It can hardly meet standard day-to-day health requirements, thanks to a lack of investment in infrastructure, staff sourcing and training, or procurement of the latest medications over several years.

Instead of focusing public investment on doctors and nurses, ICU resources and infrastructure improvements, the Government is choosing to overthrow our current “under siege” health system, and replace it with a centralised, apartheid model which will certainly be top heavy, highly bureaucratic, expensive and extremely wasteful. Whether the model will be capable of improving outcomes for all New Zealanders is extremely doubtful.

According to NZ Herald reports (3/12/21), figures released under the Official Information Act show that The Transition Unit charged with overhauling NZ’s health system has a budget of $26 million until 2023, much of which is being spent on consultants and contractors, and was/is “in part, redirected from ‘health services funding’”.  The full restructure is projected to cost approximately $500,000,000 (half a billion dollars) – before day-to-day operational expenses.  This money is desperately needed on the front line right now, to ensure that basic, preventative and emergency (let alone pandemic) and chronic healthcare is provided to those most in need. And as we all know, governmental budgets usually blow out significantly and our country is already deeply in debt(1). 

Pae Ora is a total and irresponsible waste of resources. Our country is not wealthy enough to endure this without incurring long lasting damage to our current health system and the health of all New Zealanders.

In Conclusion: The Crown is Neglecting its Obligations
The Government are elected representatives, charged with the Crown’s obligations since the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, to govern for ALL New Zealanders, to act in good faith, reasonably, fairly and with honour and to ensure equality of citizenship, with no legal discrimination. This Bill totally fails that obligation and is an embarrassment to the government, our country and all New Zealanders.

Hobson’s Pledge opposes the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill and recommends that it be scrapped.

“What gets missed in our current culture of “us versus them” is that underneath it all, every human being bleeds red….yet (the Labour Government) persists in seeking out the ways to drive a wedge and highlight the differences.

Adapted from We All Bleed Red : Psychology Today 20/9/2019


1. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/health-system-reform-transition-unit-to-spend-18m-on-consultants-this-year/CE5E2VE5AUAKNUUNTGW7FUN46I/