The $188 million Māori Health Authority funding boost is a step towards tino rangatiratanga, says political commentator Shane Te Pou, despite criticisms from Māori health leaders who claim it’s an inequitable sum.
A $579m Māori health and wellbeing package was revealed on Thursday as part of the Government’s Budget 2022.
Of that amount, $188.1m has been allocated to the Māori Health Authority over the next four years to commission services and develop iwi partnerships.
The small percentage invested in Māori health has been criticised by the likes of Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi, who dubbed it the “vanilla cake chocolate sprinkles Budget”.
He said it was only 0.7% of the total health budget. A total of $3.1 billion was set down for Health New Zealand.
Other health experts have said it’s an inequitable amount, with Papakura GP Dr Matire Harwood saying it potentially should have been doubled just to “make a dent”.
But Te Pou told Breakfast on Friday morning that it was a step in the right direction, as the current health system hadn’t worked for whānau.
He said when health services are put in the hands of Māori “we can do better”.
“We’re moving towards tino rangatiratanga (self sovereignty) in the health space where we’ve got a current construct that hasn’t worked for us, it hasn’t worked for the taxpayer.
“The Māori Health Authority, the governance body, is smaller than our smallest DHB which is based on the West Coast - so this is about devolution to where it matters most. I think we’re getting to the point where we almost have nothing to lose because the current construct hasn't worked for anybody, particularly for Māori.”
Matthew Hooton appeared alongside Te Pou on Breakfast’s political panel, he said he wasn't sure how accurate Waititi's 0.7% calculation was.
He said he didn't know if that percentage included funding which the Māori Health Authority, the new Health NZ and currently the DHBs would also devolve down to Māori controlled organisations.
"It must be more than that number," he said.
Hooton also said the health system worked best "with a more a right wing perspective, where you devolve the money to the people who care".
“In the end, I’d support John Tamihere and the Waipareira Trust knowing about Māori health better than the wokest liberal, bone carving Wellington bureaucrat.”