This years budget is like gold for the naysayers simply because Māori are finally getting what is overdue, a better health system.
I would like to acknowledge the tenacity of our Minister of Health, Andrew Little for having the foresight to see the considerable discrepancies towards Māori in the health sector. And not only see it, but to forge ahead and actually do something about it despite the heavy resistance he faced.
The outpouring of criticism opposing this new structure is ludicrous as it is coming from uneducated and naive ideologies claiming it creates separatism. The latter already exists, hence the creation of the Māori Health Authority from July 1st, 2022. This is a game changer because for the first time in history Māori can design, monitor and deliver targeted services to Māori, by Māori. It is pleasing to see $2 billion dedicated for Māori health over the next four years to bridge the significant health gap between Māori and non-Māori.
Let’s get some perspective here. The 2021 Sapere report commissioned for the Ministry of Health indicates that $5 billion per annum is required to invest in Māori Health to eliminate these discrepancies. And it must be highlighted that with $11.1 billion going to into this restructure, the Māori Health Authority gets $2 billion to provide healthcare for 20 percent of the population, with the rest going to Health New Zealand.
We don’t want to be mean-spirited or churlish, but we do want to speak the truth. And the truth is we are coming off such an impoverished, static vote across the whole of government, that anything coming to us is negligible in regard to the baseline. It’s a matter of fact. Bottom line is, this has to change. And that is why overt shifts in money where we can actually see our money being spent is the right thing to do.
Once the smoke clears and the noise dies down we are left with the brutal realisation that across the board, Māori get less than 2 per cent of the whole budget framework in our social and economic hands. When you get non-Māori taking our money, spending it for us and achieving nothing, we will always be at the bottom of society on the land of our ancestors. We have to change this.
There is an evolving policy that stipulates, “A target of 5 percent of the total number of buyer (mandated government agencies) procurement contracts are awarded to Māori businesses”. And these are determined by the IRD as a Māori authority or a business with a minimum of 50% ownership. This is clearly not the case.
We applaud the positive and significant investment in truancy services as we know one in three tamariki are not attending school regularly. We will remain open-eyed to see if these resources will be delivered in isolation or will they connect the wider whānau to support systems assisting school-based mental health programmes.
Statistically as Māori we know our family and sexual violence statistics are abhorrent. The $37.6 million to strengthen existing and new initiatives that will include Māori is warmly welcomed. Once again we hope to have a seat at the table when it comes to allocating that funding for Māori so it is targeted and effective with permanent results and benefits.
I also want to highlight last years budget “promise” of almost $2 billion being invested into housing for Māori. How many have been built? How many whānau are living in them? How many Māori were offered trade training opportunities to build these homes? Most of our peoples income goes towards rent, and they are not bad people, they are poor people treading water waiting for this Government to make good by building warm, dry whare.
I look forward to our improved healthcare system by Māori for Māori to Māori which will, as is the norm, come with the incessant negative rhetoric by the killjoys questioning why. As Māori the reality is this, we are not taking anything directly from you. This is my money coming across to my own side and it’s simply not enough.