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Healthy actions make for better Health Ministry outcomes

Politically the year has started off like most years with Maori issues taking centre stage at Ratana and Waitangi.
 |  Trevor Ammundsen  |  ,

Unlike most years these have continued to be centre stage as our government proceeds at pace with its first 100-day program, basically a dismantling of a whole lot of the previous government’s ill thought out and costly initiatives. The dismantling that is centre stage as I write this is the closure of the Maori Health Authority (Te Aka Whai Ora), this being done by introduction of a bill with this purpose.

What is unique about this bill is that the people leading the arguments from both sides are all Maori.

On the socialist side we have Te Pati Maori, Marama Davidson for the Greens and Willie Jackson charging forward for Labour. The promotion of the bill is led by the well-respected Dr Shane Reti and he is supported by Winston Peters of NZ First and David Seymour of Act. All of these people have Maori lineage.

What is to go with this bill is a centralised bureaucracy totally focussed on Maori Health with the bureaucratic functions reverting to be carried out by the Ministry of Health.

However, specific “operational” Maori areas of expertise such as the Hauora Advisory Committee and Iwi-Maori partnership boards would be retained. The focus is to be on health outcomes rather than the administrative function.

You cannot help but wonder what the fuss is about as this is primarily an administrative tidy up and cost reduction.

Possibly it is that a potential income stream for consultants has become a lot more difficult. Possibly it is something else, but there can be no doubt that the socialist side are upset.

Willie Jackson is doing his usual personal attack thing where any non-Maori that doesn’t agree with him is a racist and any Maori who doesn’t agree with him is not a real Maori.

Marama Davidson is claiming the bill is a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi, although she is not clear how the Treaty protects government departments from consolidation and cost saving.

The real point is that with all main protagonists being Maori, this issue starts to look more like a socialist versus pragmatist issue, rather than a racial one.

This lack of Maori unity must be very disappointing for some Maori but probably is just a reflection on any group of people; opinions do vary.

So how can Maori on the socialist side make some gains out of this, or at least lessen their perceived losses.

Earlier Maori Party caucuses realised the need to work with others and be pragmatic if they wanted to make gains for the Maori people. Such an attitude saw innovations such as Whanau Ora come into being.

The current incarnation of the Maori Party appears to reject this focus on gains for their people, preferring to make noise occasionally but basically do nothing.

Perhaps this is why only 15% of the Maori voters gave their party vote to Te Pati Maori.

The next few terms look like we will have steady governance from the current government while the left re-organise themselves, which could take them some time.

Labour will get a new leader, but the question is who? Willie Jackson would be a candidate but where would that leave Te Pati Maori? Could he handle more responsibility, after all Kelvin Davis found this to be difficult.

The Green Party are seeing off their last environmentalist with James Shaw’s retirement. This leaves a shrill bunch of extreme left ladies banded together in need of a new identity.

I suggest they drop the Greens brand and pick a new name, “The Aunties” perhaps.

Te Pati Maori do not need to waste the coming years tying themselves to the loser’s side and doing nothing for the people. They can make gains by communicating and working with the present government.

They will not agree on everything but can agree on some things. Just pick the issues carefully.

The National government would probably like to have another voting option if one of their coalition parties were to flex muscle, which does not mean Te Pati Maori must support all National policy but can use their potential vote to make policy gains. Time for some serious thought guys.

Thought for the day: Progress comes from cooperation, which comes from communication, which involves listening. Ranting is not part of the equation.