Tribunal’s Maori health stand excuses irresponsibility

The Waitangi Tribunal’s call for compensation for under-funding Maori health providers unfairly implies a systemic failure by health professionals and further excuses Maori from taking responsibility, Hobson’s Pledge spokesperson Casey Costello said today.  

The Waitangi Tribunal’s Hauora: Report on Stage One of the Health Services and Outcomes Kaupapa Inquiry 2019, made two key recommendations, that the Crown should:

  • consider establishing a Maori primary health authority which would control and monitor Maori health-related spending and policy,
  • consider compensation for underfunding of Maori health providers over the past 20 years.

The Waitangi Tribunal lists health gaps between Maori and everyone else in terms of life expectancy, cancer and heart-disease mortality, rheumatic fever rates, asthma hospitalisation, lagging rates of immunisation, sudden death rates, and so on and goes on to say the government is to blame.

“If there had been any evidence of Maori being refused treatment or denied support services, there may be some sympathy for poor outcomes but this is not the case,” Ms Costello said.

The report cites the lower numbers of immunisation. This is a free service that relies on the choice to immunise and the willingness of parents to do so. Any failure to do so is the responsibility of the parents, she said.

The Waitangi Tribunal determined that there had been a lack of funding for Maori health care without recognising that Maori have access to both Maori primary health providers and to every district hospital, she said.

“Yet again, rather than encouraging and empowering Maori to take responsibility and accountability for our lives, the clear message is that Maori are somehow incapable of caring for ourselves,” Ms Costello said.

Besides, to suggest that a treaty made almost 180 years ago, guaranteeing the same political rights to all New Zealanders, also guarantees the same health outcomes to all New Zealanders, irrespective of their life choices, is the height of absurdity, she said.


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