New Zealand to Close Maori Health Authority – Causing Nationwide Protests

Photo: Lucy Craymer/ Reuters/Al Jazeera

The conservative government of New Zealand introduced a bill that aims to abolish the Maori Health Authority, an agency set up to tackle the health needs of New Zealand's indigenous Maori population.

Health Minister Shane Reti said that the Maori Health Authority will be shut down by the end of June and absorbed into the existing national health system. This change “[is the] start of a new vision for Maori health,” he said.

The Maori Health Authority was set up in 2022, specifically to cater to the unique needs of the Maori who make up 17% of the population yet face worse rates of imprisonment and substandard health outcomes compared to the broader population. 

Health Minister Reti argues that “The narrow focus on disestablishment doesn’t mean an end to our focus on Maori health for those who need it,” he said, pledging to work with indigenous groups to “chart a new direction for Maori health.”

Jacqui Harema, an executive at the Maori Health Authority, said Maori knew better how to look after their own people and to improve their outcomes. She described the disestablishment of the Maori Health Authority as alarming.

“Maori know what is best for them. They need to be able to be funded to be able to resource solutions that are grounded in our own world view for our own people,” she said.

The government under Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has promised to undo policies of the previous administration, specifically concerning Maori language and health rights. Its actions have sparked nationwide protests and legal action. 

The full article can be read on the website of Al Jazeera.