Having a clear direction for what we are aiming to achieve is fundamental to our success.
Since our establishment, we have provided clear and consistent information to whānau, hapū and iwi.
We now look to the future to determine what we must do to continue to not only provide support during the COVID-19 response, but recovery as well.
The information provided by Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā has been developed by leading Maori medical health experts including Primary Care Specialists, Public Health Experts, Public Health Physicians, Māori Nurses, iwi leaders.
New Zealand's COVID -19 Protection Framework (Traffic Lights) has ended
Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā Position Statement
The Crown has obligations to protect Māori rights derived from Te Tiriti o Waitangi as well as those guaranteed through the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international human rights instruments.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more critical that the Crown and its institutions give effect to these obligations and centre their efforts on achieving equity.
We are extremely concerned about the disproportionately negative impacts the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have on Māori and particular groups within the Māori population who face multiple oppressions.
Our experiences of colonisation, coloniality, racism, and a substantial body of evidence from Aotearoa me Te Waipounamu and Indigenous communities around the world, tells us that through pandemics and other crises, unchecked government action and ‘one-size -fits-all’ approaches will exacerbate existing inequities.
We are calling for all parts of the government to make decisions and urgently commit resources to meet the aspirations and needs of whānau, Hapū and Iwi Māori.
Our calls for action are based on three central principles.
The mana and authority of whānau, Hapū, Iwi and Māori communities is non-negotiable. Mana motuhake must be recognised in the pandemic response and supported through government action to ensure Māori have access to essential information, resources and high-quality ethnicity data for monitoring so Māori are able to make and enact sovereign decisions.
Mana motuhake is supported by resourcing Māori health and disability providers and other Māori organisations to meet the needs of their communities and keep staff and whānau safe, and by respecting the critical decision-making role Hapū and Iwi have in adapting tikanga and ways of doing things during the pandemic.
The pandemic response must have equity at its centre. It must be monitored in real-time and changed where inequitable impacts and outcomes are evident. A focus should be meeting the aspirations and needs of all Māori, including groups such as tāngata whaikaha, takatāpui and tāngata whaiora.
Drivers of inequity in the health and disability system, including cost, transport and other barriers (such as accessibility to internet and telephone services) must be unapologetically removed. The expectation of culturally safe practices by health and disability workers must be reinforced, and cultural safety extended to the way we prioritise our health resources and invest in additional health and disability services.
Outside of the health and disability sector, the government response must ensure safe and healthy accommodation and housing, income supports and access to high quality water, food, and other essential supplies. Government agencies must ensure that the children and young people in state care and in youth justice residences, and people in prison are actively protected from the negative impacts of the pandemic. The pandemic response cannot be weaponised against Māori with the use of police and military force or surveillance practices that create harm for Māori communities.
While the pandemic response will seem all encompassing, it will eventually end. When this happens Māori must be left in a position to thrive for collective wellness across generations.
The pandemic response cannot be allowed to cause inequitable unintended and long-lasting impacts to peoples’ health and well-being, income and employment support, whānau, Hapū, Iwi and community connection, or access to Te Ao Māori. This requires a comprehensive approach across government, effective immediately, that considers all aspects of Māori health and wellbeing, rather than a narrow preoccupation with the direct impacts of COVID-19.