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5 December, 2021

Te Tiriti o Waitangi must be honoured in continued Covid-19 response

PRESS RELEASE 6/12/2021
Te Tiriti o Waitangi must be honoured in continued Covid-19 response

National Hauora Coalition (NHC) is today preparing to be heard on day one of the Waitangi Tribunal’s priority hearing looking into issues around the Government’s Covid-19 response.

“We see fundamental issues with the Crown’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic which have had an unjust and unfair impact on whānau Māori,” says Simon Royal, NHC Chief Executive.

“We have been trying to navigate the Crown’s systems and rules that weren’t designed for us, but frankly, the Crown needs to take a fundamentally different approach and begin authentically partnering with Māori. Not only is this required of the Crown under te Tiriti o Waitangi, but practically, the Crown lacks the expertise and infrastructure to reach whānau Māori and work with diverse Māori communities on its own.”

NHC is an interested party in the priority hearing, which takes place from 6 to 10 December 2021. While the Covid-19 response has highlighted many issues that require inquiry through a te Tiriti o Waitangi lens, the scope of this hearing is limited. In response, NHC’s evidence focuses primarily on issues of vaccine sequencing and roll out and the introduction of the traffic light system (the Covid-19 Protection Framework).

Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen, NHC Clinical Director and lead claimant for Te Ohu Rata o Aotearoa (the Māori Medical Practitioners Association), highlights the immediate risks for whānau Māori in written evidence submitted to the Tribunal last week.

“At this point in time, Māori are the least vaccinated population, the most vulnerable population and are literally in harm’s way. We see that with the Delta outbreak right now in terms of death and case numbers. That is hugely worrying and devastating for Māori communities,”

– Dr McKree Jansen

Although there is no single quick fix that addresses all the issues likely to be raised in the coming week, NHC had identified some solutions that could be put in place immediately. These include supporting a collective Māori voice to act as a counterweight to the Crown’s approach that has not put equity or te Tiriti o Waitangi at the centre, immediately making funding available to communities to provide direct support to whānau and providing sustainable funding to overburdened providers working with Māori and Pacific communities and tāngata whaikaha (disabled people).

“The primary concern of NHC and our kaimahi is working with whānau to ensure they can have the best protections against Covid-19 and have access to the essential healthcare they need,” says Tammy Dehar, Strategic Project Leader at NHC.

“We are very worried that the longer our whānau in Tāmaki Makaurau and around the motu are at increased risk from the harms of Covid, the more Māori organisations and communities who continue to provide support will risk burnout. This is a serious issue that the Crown needs to take a partnership approach to solving.”

[ENDS]

About National Hauora Coalition
The NHC kaupapa is mana whānau, whānau ora and is a lead advocate for hauora Māori (Wai 2687) through the Waitangi Tribunal Health Services Kaupapa Inquiry (Wai 2575). In its day-to-day activities NHC partners with a wide range of agencies, Iwi and industry groups to commission and deliver a broad range of indigenously designed health and social services to improve health outcomes for Māori, achieve health equity and greater social cohesion for the benefit of Aotearoa.

For further information please contact:
Penny Elliot
+64 27 3277 644
pennye@nhc.maori.nz

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