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Government’s Te Aka Whai Ora urgency move a travesty of democracy – PSA

The Government’s decision to ram legislation abolishing Te Aka Whai Ora, the Māori Health Authority, through the House under urgency is a travesty of democracy and an insult to te Tiriti o Waitangi.

PSA Te Kaihautū Māori Janice Panoho says the indecent haste with which the legislation is being pushed through shows how desperate the Government is to avoid scrutiny of a divisive decision that has been universally panned by Māori and Māori public health experts.

“The government is riding roughshod over the needs and aspirations of its Te Tiriti partner. The new legislation shows a total disregard for the collective voice of Māori leaders telling the Prime Minister across hui at Turangawaewae, Ratana Pa, and Waitangi, that Te Aka Whai Ora is desperately needed.

“We are deeply disappointed in this government’s lack of respect and regard to their Te Tiriti partner by dismissing the judicial process to allow the Waitangi Tribunal hearing an opportunity for the Māori advocates Lady Moxon and Kuka to voice their concerns on behalf of Iwi Māori,” Panoho says.

“Māori health workers, who are experts on how to address health inequity, have also been shut out of this discussion,” Panoho says.

“The debate about Te Aka Whai Ora goes to the heart of the wider debate about the relationship between Māori and the Crown and yet Māori, who will be the most impacted, have not even been afforded a conversation,” Panoho says.

“For such an important Constitutional issue it is vital that Parliamentary processes are used to allow proper public scrutiny and debate rather than to lock out people with dissenting voices.”

Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi, the Public Service Association (the PSA) represents about 30,000 workers in the health sector. Of the PSA’s 92,000 members more than 10,000 identify as Māori.

The PSA views the abolition of Te Aka Whai Ora as attack on Mana Motuhake and the ability of Māori to deliver health services for Māori in a way that works for Māori.

“Te Aka Whai Ora aimed to tackle the well documented barriers Māori face to accessing health care. There is clear evidence of Māori health inequalities that deserves to be addressed by more than empty slogans and a rushed parliamentary process,” Panoho says.

“This Government promised evidence-based decisions, but like its decision to row back smoking reforms, which also impact Māori, it would rather embrace ideology than good public health policy.

“The rushed legislation sends a clear message to all New Zealanders that the Government is not interested in their views, and is certainly not interested in listening to Māori on issues that affect them.

“It doesn’t bode well for the planned debate over the principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi that the government wants to pursue,” Panoho says.

” Me mahi tahi tatou mo te organa o te katoa”. We should work together for the wellbeing of everyone.

 

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