Minister of Health Andrew Little and Associate Minister of Health (Māori Health) Peeni Henare announce a $22 million package for the interim Māori Health Authority. Video / Supplied
Treatment options for rangatahi, clear communication with frontline health providers, equitable funding and results.
These are the top items on the wishlists of local health advocates for the new Māori Health Authority, Te Mana Hauora
The entity will launch on July 1, alongside the new Health New Zealand.
The Government’s Budget 2022 allocated $168 million over four years to the authority’s budget for purchasing Māori population health and prevention-based services.
Mental health advocate Michael Naera has been “battling” for a separate Māori health system for quite some time.
“When the announcement was made, I was over the moon,” Naera said.
Te Mana Hauora Māori will work in partnership with both the Ministry of Health and Health New Zealand to make sure Māori health needs are understood and met by policy and targeted services with a kaupapa Māori approach.
At the local level, Iwi-Māori Partnership Boards will have decision-making roles. They will also be the primary source of whanau voice in the system.
It comes after the Pae Ora or Healthy Futures Bill passed its third reading in Parliament last week.
Naera said making sure the new entity lived up to expectations was “the next fight.”
“The proof is in the pudding,” Naera said.
For Naera, the “pudding” would need to include more mental health treatment options for rangatahi.
“I sat down with my family and I asked them what they would like,” Naera said.
“Their wish is that the authority starts conversing with whānau, iwi and hapu.”
Naera said rangatahi who were experiencing severe mental distress needed more treatment options, options that include Māori methods of healing or rongoā.
“That’s the biggest thing that’s missing, and that doesn’t just apply to mental health services.”
Te Manu Toroa chief executive Pat Cook said the biggest hope for the new authority has always been the best health outcomes for Māori.
“[Our hope] is for outcomes determined by the patient, whānau, hapu and iwi.”
While Cook questioned whether the authority would receive the resources needed to make sure the system went through a “transformational change” she said she believed the new system would have a positive impact.
Te Runanga o Ngati Pikiao Trust general practitioner Dr Grace Malcolm said she hoped the new authority would be able to fulfil the principles of the Pae Or legislation.
The system [should] work from the ground up so that the average Joe on the ground has input.”
Malcolm said those in the new system would also need to buy into and advocate for the principles of the Healthy Futures Bill.
Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency chairwoman, Lakes District Health Board member and Rotorua District councillor Merepeka Ruakawa-Tait, said the authority would have the opportunity to drill into the significant health issues that affect Maori.
“These are well known, including diabetes, obesity, heart and respiratory problems.
But more importantly [the authority] can raise with government the wider issues contributing to this sorry situation: housing, income, schooling, justice and so on.”
Ruakawa-Tait said Te Mana Hauora was starting with a clean slate so there would be “no more excuses”.
“They can play a major role in getting whānau Māori to raise their own expectations about being healthy.
“I hope Hauora Māori will encourage Maori to identify their own local health needs, make health literacy a priority and start as early as possible.”
Te Runanga O Ngati Ranginui Iwi Mataora Services manager Roy Nathan said his main concerns were equitable funding.
“The philosophy is great. We want to see the resourcing to back it up.”
Nathan said as the manager of a mental health, addiction and family health service he would particularly like to see more services available in the trauma space.
Nathan would also like to see clear communication between the new authority and frontline workers.
“The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result,” Nathan said.
“I’m very open to trying something new. For many years there have been poor outcomes for our whānau and change is much-needed.”
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