A long-standing rōpū of determined Wai 2575 health claimants – who filed their Waitangi Tribunal claim in 2005 – are a step closer to closing the final chapter on underfunding grievances with the Crown. Yesterday claimants met for 90 minutes with the Health Minister Andrew Little, Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare and government officials. It was the first opportunity to hear the ministers’ responses to the report and try to resolve the unfinished parts of the contemporary claim centred on historic health inequities. Calculations were previously determined by health economists for independent research group Sapere in a 66 page report that was given to the Government for consideration in August 2021.

Wai 2575 claimants meet with government ministers Andrew Little and Peeni Henare yesterday.

Chief executive of Te Arawhiti, Glenn Webber, remarked that he was struck by the length of time that the claimants have been trying to address the issue. He attended in Crown Relations Minister Kelvin Davis’ absence due to tangihanga. Referring to the ministers’ backing the health reforms and particularly the standing up of Te Aka Whai Ora (the Māori Health Authority), Lady Tureiti Moxon, chairwoman of the National Urban Māori Authority acknowledged their leadership. “I’m really pleased with what’s happening and congratulate you on your bravery, especially given the backlash,” she said. Moxon also encouraged the Crown to formally include the 2019 Hauora report of the Waitangi Tribunal by including it in the whakapapa of the health reform historical record.

Bridging the equity challenge dominated the conversation. Talks canvassed the impact of underfunding that caused the demise of many kaupapa Māori providers and why the capitalisation calculation formula does not work.“We need to address what we went to the Waitangi Tribunal for and the role of the Sapere report. It’s about the gesture. It’s a good reference point for both sides,” said Janice Kuka, fellow claimant, and CE of Ngā Mataapuna Oranga. For the first time, Ministry of Health officials attributed the Sapere report to informing the transition unit working on health reforms in areas such as workforce development, infrastructure, and commissioning. Claimant Taitimu Maipi said, “We stated our people were dying due to an unjust and racist New Zealand health system. We are now ready to settle after 17 years.”

The next step is to address the last remaining recommendations by the Waitangi Tribunal. Namely how the Crown deals with the historic underfunding of Māori primary health providers and Māori service providers and an apology. “This is about resetting and recalibrating how Māori health is valued. Not just now, but as we head decades into the future,” Moxon said.

Republished from NZ Herald (11November 2022)