$188m Māori Health Authority boost 'not enough' - experts

The long-awaited Māori Health Authority Budget 2022 announcement has fallen flat among some Māori health experts and leaders, who say the $188 million boost is inequitable.

A $579m Māori health and wellbeing package was revealed on Thursday as part of Budget 2022.

Of that amount, $188.1 has been set down for the Māori Health Authority to commission services and develop iwi partnerships.

Māori Health Minister Peeni Henare defended the amount during a media conference following the announcement, and said it was one he could be proud of.

Peeni Henare at the 2022 Budget

However, Teresa Wall, Māori health consultant, told 1News it wasn't an equitable sum.

The amount worked out to be around 2% of the overall health Budget investment, she said. More than $3 billion over two years was given to Health New Zealand, the system which will replace New Zealand's DHBs.

“The thing that makes it doable is the amount of funding that goes into it, so do I think they're sufficient? No.”

In a statement shared to social media, Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi acknowledged the $166 million boost to Whānau Ora commissioning, but was critical of the overall Māori health amount.

“It’s taken 182-years for Māori to get 2% of the budget.

“By that logic, we will need to wait 1840 more years to get 20% of health investment, and by then Jesus Christ will have returned.”

Rawiri Waititi, Te Pāti Māori co-leader

Dr Matire Harwood, GP and professor, said it was a "great start", but it's not enough.

"I think if we're going to achieve equity then we probably do need to look at the way that we fund our health services to achieve that.

"Potentially even doubling of that over the next four years would have been a fantastic start to making a dent in equity."

READ MORE: Govt delivers $1.2b for Māori in Budget 2022

Political commentator and 1News Budget 2022 panellist Morgan Godfery said it was too early to say if the boost was enough.

“I don’t think we’re in a position to say just yet because I don’t think it’s clear what the functions of the Māori Health Authority will be and whether it would be a dedicated service where you have sort of primary or secondary care for Māori or whether that's dealt with through Health NZ, or whether the Māori Health Authority is simply a procurement agency.

"By the looks of this budget, it seems to be the latter, that simply Māori Health Authority will be paying Māori providers to deliver health care."

Godfrey said if that were the case, then it was a “good idea”.

“The model has worked with Whānau Ora, so we have over 10 years now of good evidence to say that outsourcing this kind of health work to providers on the ground actually works.

"And the lesson was probably learned last year with the vaccine rollout which was something of a failure for Māori and that may have shifted a lot of thinking.”