The Interim Maori Health Authority has announced an inaugural funding package of $22 million to embed Te Ao Māori perspectives and initiatives throughout the health system.

The authority is part of major health reforms that will see New Zealand’s 20 DHBs replaced by one new body, Health New Zealand. A new Public Health agency will also be created within the Ministry of Health.

Co-Chair of the Authority, Tipa Mahuta, said the Authority hadn’t wasted any time in getting on with mahi to improve the health of whanau as it has been just three months since the Authority was stood up as an interim entity.

Last month the Interim Authority’s new CE Riana Manuel (Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Kahungunu), along with Fepulea’i Margie Apa, CE interim Health New Zealand were also welcomed to their new roles by Associate Minister of Health (Māori Health) Peeni Henare, and other key health officials. Both CEs expressed their commitment to meeting the challenges ahead and realising the aspirations of their tīpuna in delivering equity for all in the new health system.

“While our longer-term budget is still being finalised, this funding package is proof of our dedication to getting things done and lifting the health of Māori who have suffered for far too long,” Mr Mahuta said.

“The Māori Health Authority is here to make a difference for all New Zealanders. We are ready and willing to work alongside the Ministry of Health and Health New Zealand in making the transformational changes our people have been crying out for.

“A key priority is on driving growth within our Māori workforce by both supporting our existing staff, and ensuring Māori have a clear pathway into health mahi.”

Mr Henare, who along with the Minister of Health Andrew Little, announced the funding this morning said the authority was part of major health reforms that were to fix “a health system that for too long has failed to address the disproportionate health outcomes that Māori face”.

He said the initial investment “laid the foundation for the authority’s role supporting kaupapa Māori health services and expanding Te Ao Māori solutions across the health system.  

“I am pleased the interim Māori Health Authority is getting to work quickly to commission providers to deliver services that will make a huge difference for whānau.”

Mr Little said the Government was committed to building a new national health system so all New Zealanders can get the health care they need no matter who they are or where they live.

Chair of Health New Zealand Robert Campbell who was speaking at Takapuwahia Marae in Porirua, hosted by Ngāti Toa, pointed out that these Māori-led solutions had long been ignored by governments, yet had previously “allowed Māori to flourish for centuries”.

“New Zealand has been dominated by monocultural thinking and approach,” he said.

“The system has not worked for Māori for many decades and we have to change it.

“The best work for Māori must come from Māori.”