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Undoing Progress: The Disestablishment of Te Aka Whai Ora and the Future of Maori Health

The dissolution of Te Aka Whai Ora will send Māori spiraling backward and add more pressure to a health system already buckling according to New Zealand’s largest Māori Public Health Organisation.

Hapai Te Hauora CEO Jacqui Harema is disappointed with the Government’s aggressive determination to remove targeted services so desperately needed. “The brutal reality is Māori die seven years earlier than non-Māori. There is comprehensive evidence proving the long-standing inequities in the health system for Māori and its failure to reach adequate equitible outcomes. That is why Te Aka Whai Ora was established in the first place to address these disparities. Te Aka Whai Ora is not a separate health system for Māori as some have claimed but an entity responsible for ensuring the health system works well for Māori and ensuring the whole health system understands Māori health needs.”

This week the Coalition Government passed the Pae Ora amendment bill to disestablish Te Aka Whai Ora in late June with the intention to transfer the roles and responsibilities into the wider health system.

“To return to a one-size-fits-all approach in health is undoing a lot of good work to address the needs and aspirations of Māori. The for Māori, by Māori to Māori approach to health is a proven method that provides positive outcomes for whānau, hapū, and Iwi.

A letter signed by 740 doctors across Aotearoa opposing the bill was presented to Minister Reti earlier this month but to no avail and Harema knows concern is widespread and growing by the day.

“There is genuine fear by medical professionals who are facing a lot of uncertainty around future plans once Te Aka Whai Ora has gone. We need to know what the Government’s continuation plan is after June 30 to improve health outcomes for Māori”.


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