Minister Henare contribution to speech on Building a New Zealand Health Service that works for all New Zealanders


We talk a lot about being a transformational Government. Some imagine this statement means big infrastructure builds, massive policy commitments all leading up to a single grand reveal.

But this is what I see as transformation.

Something quite simply and yet so very complex.

Māori feeling comfortable and able to go to the doctor when they get sick.

That – that would change everything for our people.

Our nannies would stop refusing to get their sore foot checked even though it’s been bothering them for a month, Mum wouldn’t have to ration out her boys antibiotics cause her GP is an expensive hour drive away, thousands of whanau would no longer get their diagnosis too late – too late to make a difference, too late to save a life.

We would no longer hang in there, wait it out, or tell ourselves ‘I’ll see how I feel in the morning’.

Many Māori don’t like going to the doctor. And it’s not because we don’t care about our health, or the health of our whanau. It’s because our experiences of the Health system, the experiences of our parents and grandparents have been negative.

That why we must change. That is why we must transform our Maori health system.

Māori must be enabled to provide effective leadership and partnership throughout the Health system. And we will require all organisations to share responsibility for improving outcomes for Māori. 

We will legislate for a new body an independent voice - the Māori Health Authority, to drive hauora Māori and lead the system to make real change.

It will have joint decision-making rights to agree national strategies, policies and plans that affect Māori, at all levels of the system.

And it will work in partnership with Health New Zealand to ensure service plans and commissioning drives improvement in equity.

It will be able to directly commission services where needed, and to grow kaupapa Māori services and innovation.

The Māori Health Authority will be constituted to represent the Māori voice from all iwi and hapori.

Embedding partnership must also happen at a local level.

Māori will have a clear voice in decision-making through the evolved iwi/Māori partnership boards that will approve priorities and service plans for localities.

We know transforming our health system won’t happen overnight – but this is where we start.

This is what transformation looks like.

This is how we help Māori feel comfortable and able to go to the doctor when they get sick.

See here for full documents about the reforms