Govt commits Māori to a premature death with axing of health authority, smokefree laws

The government’s attack on Māori health this week is committing tangata-whenua to a premature death, says Te Pāti Māori.

“The government have begun their onslaught on Māori health with the abolishment of the Māori Health Authority and smokefree laws in the same day” said health spokesperson and co-leader, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.

“Our health system sees Māori die seven years earlier than non-Māori. We are two-to-three times more likely to be engulfed with cancer and sixty percent more likely to die after diagnosed.

“The writing is on the wall, it’s in the wards and oncology units across the country.

“Together with the move to repeal smokefree laws, going back to a system which is entrenched in 180-years of failure is a decision by Minister Reti to commit those he shares whakapapa with to an earlier death.

“The abolishment of Te Aka Whai Ora this morning has undone decades of work, and is a fundamental breach of our tino rangatiratanga rights asserted in Te Tiriti.

“The campaign for a smokefree Aotearoa was led out by Hone Harawira and Dame Tariana Turia in their time in office, setting targets for smokefree 2025.

“Māori will not reach that 5% target until 2040 on current figures which show Māori smoking rates at 17.1% compared to European and Other at 6.1%.

“That is no fault of our own. Aotearoa was colonised with tobacco and disease. Our communities are plagued by four times more tobacco retailers then others.

“It is my intent to hold the government to account, and assure Minister Reti keeps his promise to deliver better outcomes than the Māori Health Authority,” concluded Ngarewa-Packer.