New Zealand / Politics

Bill to disestablish Māori Health Authority passes third reading

12:41 pm on 28 February 2024

Health Minister Dr Shane Reti. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Parliament has passed the legislation to abolish the Māori Health Authority.

Under urgency, the first two readings passed with support of the three coalition parties on Tuesday.

With debate ending for the night at 10pm, further debate and a vote on the third reading took place on Wednesday morning, passing 68 votes to 54.

The Pae Ora (Disestablishment of the Māori Health Authority) Amendment Bill was introduced under urgency, prompting cries of outrage from the opposition.

Health Minister Dr Shane Reti called it a "narrow bill" which "was canvassed at length on the campaign trail".

"Substantively, this bill meets our hundred-day commitment and delivers on our intent," he said at the outset of the bill's first reading.

"While the particular version of the dream that the Māori Health Authority laid out is coming to an end today, I want to paint a different dream, one that will be outcomes driven, providing greater devolved decision-making that will deliver care as close to the home and the hapū as possible.

"There is organisational expertise in the Māori Health Authority, and I want to retain that. I say to Māori Health Authority staff to please join me, guide me, and help us together to row a different waka towards better health outcomes. This bill enables that."

Labour's Peeni Henare, associate spokesperson for health, in response called it part of the "the three-headed taniwha otherwise known as the coalition government's … regressive Māori policy agenda".

He pointed to the work Māori organisations did in getting the country vaccinated during the pandemic as an example of how "Te Aka Whai Ora was here not just for Māori but for the betterment of this entire nation".

More to come...