Over the past two weeks, Matariki has been inspiring us to reflect on our collective past, and the journey of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu over the past eight years. This week, we are looking ahead to a new future.
Today marks the first day of July, and also the first day of a new era in healthcare. It seems like just yesterday that the health reforms were first announced, and we are delighted that from today, Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority will formally begin functioning as the core health services for Aotearoa.
This change does not interrupt the provision of care to our whānau, who should still continue to seek support from the same services as usual. However, in the longer term we are excited to see the new system focus on creating better outcomes for all whānau, with a focus on equity, accessibility and cohesion. Above all, we are hoping to see the strengths-based, people-led philosophy of Whānau Ora embedded at all levels of the new system, particularly within the Māori Health Authority.
The health reform was created to address many of the same problems that Whānau Ora has been chipping away at for the past eleven years. For too long, mainstream health services have not provided adequate care to vulnerable communities like Māori, Pasifika and tangata whaikaha. The establishment of Whānau Ora provided an opportunity to address this, but we have always been constrained by the limitations of a health system that is not fit for purpose and continues to perpetuate the same prejudices and inequities.
While the Whānau Ora Review of 2018 recognised the inherent success of our approach, it also acknowledged that a cross-government approach was needed to truly harness its lifechanging potential. Our hope is that this new model for health services will allow Whānau Ora to play a greater role in affecting change for whānau Māori.
We are committed to working closely with the newly established Iwi Māori Partnership boards as well as directly with the Māori Health Authority to ensure that our whānau and communities are engaged with and provided for in all decision making.