The Government has provided $98.1 million in establishment funding, but the people the Māori Health Authority (MHA) will be helping are no closer to finding out how much of the overall health budget the new agency will receive.
However, there’s growing sentiment the level of resourcing should be “at least” proportionate to population. With 850,500 New Zealanders identifying as Māori in June last year, the funding would equate to 16.7 per cent of the total health budget.
Based on Thursday’s Budget figures for forecast operating costs for health of $21.8 billion in 2024 – when the new Health NZ organisation could be up and running – that would be $3.64b.
The proposed demographic division was an appropriate “starting point”, independent researcher and commentator Dr Rawiri Taonui said.
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“In some regards, there’s going to be a bit of cross-over between the mainstream system, for instance, major surgery and cancer treatment, but as a starting point, population should be an indicator.
“The other thing that needs to be balanced in there is what component of that Budget will be about closing the gaps in delivery between Māori and Pākehā. And that’s really the key idea of having a standalone Māori Health Authority is to improve those gaps,” Taonui said.
“The reality is that our people suffer a higher disease burden. You would also need to create an adjustor that acknowledges that Māori health inequities would need considerably more than what is proportionate to our population.
“Equity is not cheap, but inequity is even more expensive. The New Zealand taxpayer stands to win significantly financially from a significant investment in Māori health outcomes in the longer term, as the more expensive hospital procedures that Māori tend to access become reduced to the same level as everyone else,” Royal said.
“There’s a lot of competing factors.”
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It would be “wonderful” to get that level of funding assigned to the MHA, but Royal said it was clear the Government was trying to be fiscally responsible.
National Urban Māori Authority chair Lady Tureiti Moxon said there was a “long way to go” in ensuring MHA was properly resourced to tackle the challenging task it had.
“There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done, but the beauty of our system is that our system is being given its mana to start that process and to start growing and developing it by Māori, for Māori,” Moxon said.
Waitangi Tribunal claimant and Māori health leader Lady Tureiti Moxon is calling on the Crown to respond to the Waitangi Tribunal Hauora Report with more urgency. (First published August 2019)
Māori health benefited to the tune of $242.8m in Budget 2021, soaking up a large chunk of the Government’s more-than-$1 billion total Māori spend.
Alongside the MHA investment, $17.8m will be used to support iwi/Māori partnership boards and $126.8m for Hauora Māori programmes.
Massey University school of economics and finance associate professor Matthew Roskruge believed the new authority would have a procurement focus, rather than being a provider.
“Hopefully that changes and there’s a bit more money put into the provision of Māori health.
“I think we have to be really careful that [the set-up funding announced on Thursday] isn’t just a lolly scramble for consultants and for people to have opinions, and that it actually delivers something for iwi, hapū, whānau on the ground,” Roskruge said.