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Monday 20 April 2020


Rōpū calls living document to be urgently resuscitated

Resounding disappointment is the view of Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā on the recently released Ministry of Health Initial COVID-19 Māori Response Action Plan.

Dr Rhys Jones from Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā says the rōpū is disappointed with the plan and its lack of details on how the Ministry of Health, DHB’s and mainstream health providers will ensure equitable healthcare for Māori during the COVID-19 reponse and recovery.

“The Initial COVID-19 Māori Response Action Plan lacks any detail on actions or timeframes that the health and disability system will take to provide equitable access, care and treatment for Māori during the COVID-19 response,” Dr Jones said.

“It provides high-level and aspirational statements and uses language and words that will resonate with Māori, but offers no clear and tangible actions to bring to life the aspirations of the plan.”

“Instead it devolves almost all responsibility for the provision of Māori healthcare to whānau, hapū and iwi Māori  - something that has been taking place already - while not expressing any expectation for mainstream healthcare to do their job in ensuring equitable healthcare for Māori.”

“This is particularly disappointing, given the plan’s release almost four weeks after Aotearoa entered into Alert-Level 4.”

Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā has a set recommendations that it believes will go some way to breathing life into the action plan.

These recommendations include:

  • Māori governance and leadership at every level of the COVID-19 response and that they are afforded Treaty-consistent control of decision making.


  • The Ministry of Health take a stronger leadership role to ensure that during the COVID-19 response and recovery, DHB’s and mainstream providers are held accountable for doing their job in ensuring equitable access for Māori. 


  • The systemic collection and analysis of high-quality ethnicity data across all aspects of the Government’s COVID-19 response.


  • Immediate commencement of real time monitoring of the health and disability system to understand the provision of healthcare and support for all Māori and identify areas that are not providing equitable services. 


  • Transparency in the distribution of funding; fair distribution of tests, PPE and flu vaccines; equitable access to testing for COVID-19.


  • Actively removing barriers to health services for Māori, including cost barriers and access to internet, phones and cell phone reception.


  • The acknowledgement of our cultural values and the use of scientific evidence to enable Māori to safely care for, support and be with our whānau who are terminally ill and in the last moments of their life. 


  • Tangihanga guidelines that are based on scientific evidence and acknowledge and recognise our cultural values and our ability to manage ourselves safely within our own cultural practices, under the guidance of funeral directors.


  • Funding the development of iwi, hapū and marae pandemic plan templates that align with DHB deliverables, to provide appropriate and relevant guidance to iwi, hapū and marae to plan for, and support their whānau, in the ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery.


  • The development of appropriate and relevant guidance to support iwi and Māori health providers in treatment and post care treatment and follow up for Māori individuals who test positive for COVID-19, and their whānau. 


  • A commitment of further resourcing for Māori health providers and iwi to continue to operate throughout the entire span of the COVID-19 response and recovery.


  • Longer term planning to be led by the Ministry of Health that addresses the social determinants of health. The development of a recovery plan that places equity in the centre for Māori in the return to employment, return to schools and university, and in addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on Māori.


  • Any change in COVID-19 levels for Aotearoa is informed by thorough analysis of risks to the Māori population.


Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā also hoped that the plan would acknowledge the effort and commitment that has been shown by Māori health providers and iwi to date.

“The fact that the plan is a living document means that there is still an opportunity for the Ministry of Health to deliver on its high level aspirations. But it will have to happen quickly, in partnership with Māori stakeholders including iwi, health experts and groups often overlooked but greatly impacted when the Government gets it wrong,” Dr Jones said.

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