Luxon’s health-reform (and co-governance) predictions are dismissed as “misinformation” – but shouldn’t we wait and see?

On the Māori Television website, a contretemps involving National leader Chris Luxon is innocuously described as Te Ao with Moana, Series 4 Episode 7.

There’s a bit more information.  It happened on Monday this week:

Moana sits down with the leader of the National Party Christopher Luxon.

But she did not down to chat with him – or, necessarily, to conduct an interview.

What transpired is better summed up on Newshub:

Veteran Māori broadcaster Moana Maniapoto accused National leader Christopher Luxon of “misinformation” during a fiery debate about co-governance. 

We can argue about whether Luxon was guilty of spreading “misinformation”, “disinformation” or neither. But let’s put that aside for now.

Luxon raised Maniapoto’s hackles while explaining his opposition to the Ardern Government’s centralised co-governance arrangements, like the new Māori Health Authority.

“We’ve had co-governance in the past-National government that’s been bounded around Treaty claims and iwi managing local natural resources essentially working with local government,” Luxon explained. 

“What we now seem to be talking about is co-governance with respect to the delivery of public services and my issue is I believe a single system with innovation and components around targeting people on the basis of need and partnering through devolution and through localism with iwi and through local government, to actually get better outcomes.”

The Newshub report notes that the Maori Health Authority is a key component of the Government’s health system reforms.  The country’s 20 District Health Boards are being replaced by a new centralised entity, Health NZ, and a Māori Health Authority is being established.

The Māori Health Authority was decided after the Health and Disability System Review found that Māori health outcomes were “significantly worse” than those of other Kiwis.

The review said those outcomes represent a “failure of the health and disability system” that did not reflect Treaty of Waitangi commitments.

Luxon has committed his party to scrapping the Māori Health Authority if National wins the election next year.

Maniapoto plainly believes this is a bad policy commitment, regardless of the financial costs or whether the money spent on setting up the Maori Health Authority – and keeping it going – might be better spent on supplying treatment rather than administration.

“Isn’t Māori health in such a crisis that we do need to pile more money in and be very brave and bold in our thinking?” Maniapoto asked Luxon. 

He replied: “All we’re going to do is amalgamate and centralise and build a massive bureaucracy that will end up competing with Health New Zealand.”

Luxon presumably meant to say that all the Ardern government was going to do was amalgamate and centralise and build a massive bureaucracy that will end up competing with Health New Zealand.

But rather than seek clarification, Maniapoto disputed what Luxon had said and unabashedly became a spokesperson for the government:

“No, we’re not. That’s misinformation,” she said.


“You want the one system that you suggest will work for everybody. In the last 40 years, there have been massive attempts to address inequities within the health system,” Maniapoto said.

“Everybody, all the experts – the Heather Simpson report, the Māori health advisory group, all the NGOs that wrote to you and David Seymour last weekthe Waitangi Tribunal with its interim recommendation – they all say that we need an independent Māori authority that will work in a certain way. Why do you not trust expert advice?”

Luxon replied: “I think we’ll create a massive amount of bureaucracy.”

The Newshub report was written by Zane Small, described as a “digital political reporter” for Newshub based in the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

He explains that the Māori Health Authority will commission kaupapa Māori services and work alongside Health NZ to develop system plans and commissions for primary and community services.

He does not delve into the question of which authority will get what portion of the health budget or how their claims for bigger budgets will be resolved if money is tight.

He does acknowledge that a Māori Health Authority was recommended in the controversial He Puapua document, “a think-piece report” commissioned by the Government in 2019 that sets out a roadmap to co-governance between the Crown and Māori by 2040.

Māori have been consulted on what should be done with the He Puapua agenda. Wider public consultation will begin later this year.

Let’s get back to Maniapoto, who told Luxon in the interview – sorry, heated debate:

“You’re not helping with that conversation. You’re using words like separatism.”

He replied: “I’m not.”

Small’s report points out that Luxon’s predecessor, Judith Collins, did talk of “separatism”.

He recalls her accusing the Government of “separatism by stealth” for introducing the Māori Health Authority and scrapping the ability for Māori wards to be overturned by a local poll.

But the point of this recollection is open to question, because any notion that Luxon should be bound by everything Collins said while she was National’s leader is absurd.

Moreover, Newshub goes on to report:

“I’m up for that conversation. That’s why I’m here with you today. I’m coming on your show because you want to discuss these issues,” Luxon told Maniapoto. 

“I’ve given you a different perspective. I appreciate it’s not your perspective but I’m putting forward what I think and what we think.”

Then Luxon said the Government needs to be clear about its co-governance intentions. 

“I don’t think the Government is being very clear about co-governance and I think if you went outside on the street and asked an everyday New Zealander: what is co-governance? They’d be unable to explain it.”

Luxon’s suggestion was to focus on former Prime Minister and National leader Bill English’s ‘social investment model‘, “targeting support on the basis of need”.

“A good example for me would be the COVID story. Initially, the Government said we’ll just run everything centrally from Wellington and it wasn’t until they engaged with Chinese communities with language issues to get vaccination rates up – the same happened with Māori/Pasifika – that we were able to use local community organisations to get to those communities.”

As for Luxon’s “misinformation” – well, according to,

Misinformation is “false information that is spread, regardless of intent to mislead.” Put a flag in the second half of this definition…

For example,

“… say a party starts at 8pm, but you forget or misread the invitation and tell your friends it starts at 9pm, you are supplying them with misinformation. But don’t fear: we’re not calling the fact police on you! The key, here, is that you unwittingly spread false information around; you didn’t mean to, or even might have thought the information was true.”

“Misinformation doesn’t care about intent, and so is simply a term for any kind of wrong or false information.”

On the other hand:

“Disinformation means ‘false information, as about a country’s military strength or plans, disseminated by a government or intelligence agency in a hostile act of tactical political subversion.’ It is also used more generally to mean ‘deliberately misleading or biased information; manipulated narrative or facts; propaganda’.

“So, disinformation is knowingly spreading misinformation. Our first definition of this word gives one major reason why a person or group might want to spread wrong information, but there are many other nefarious motivations lurking behind the creation of disinformation.”

In the case of Labour’s health reforms, Luxon is predicting they will result in a burgeoning bureaucracy.

The government is in the predicting caper, too, by insisting our wellbeing will be improved by its restructuring of the health sector.

We won’t know who is right – Labour, Luxon or his bellicose interviewer – for some time.

The PGF makes way for the RSPF – there’s not so much money and Maori projects will have the inside running

We haven’t had time to add up the sums involved, but the Government has made several announcements in the past 24 hours or so involving the spending or investment of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mind you, most of the population has been deemed ineligible on race grounds to benefit directly from some of that spending – you could say much of it.  But the government does insist that if Maori do well, we all do well, which means we will all benefit in the long run.

The aviation industry is one beneficiary where ethnicity (so far as we can tell) has not been a consideration in the government’s decision-making.  An additional $170 million is being provided for the Maintaining International Air Connectivity scheme to October 2021.

Another announcement – for regional grants and loans promised before the election – transforms the Provincial Growth Fund and continues its work in developing regional projects, but with less money and a new name, the Regional Strategic Partnership Fund.

Even so, there’s $200 million to be distributed to worthy causes (and Maori projects are being given the inside running).

Maori medium schools are the beneficiaries of $77 million in new capital and Maori communities are the beneficiaries of 15 initiatives to receive $2.8m of funding for renewable energy projects.  This is just a first helping:  in total $14 million will go to renewable energy projects for Māori housing over the next four years.

Our observations are that five of the fresh press statements from the Beehive can be characterised as  … Continue reading “The PGF makes way for the RSPF – there’s not so much money and Maori projects will have the inside running”

Get used to FPAs, if you are employing staff – and brace yourself to losing control over shaping what is a fair deal

We are tempted on occasion to cry: come back, Winston, all is forgiven. Big chunks of our society would benefit from a tempering influence of the sort exercised by New Zealand First – through its coalition agreement – on Labour-Green policy development and implementation from 2017-20.

Yes, they got in the way of some policies we would have welcomed.  But the Peters party frustrated policies to give effect to curiously separatist interpretations of the Crown’s Treaty obligations.  And it is credited (or discredited, depending on your perspective) with frustrating the introduction of Fair Pay Agreements (or FPAs, as the alphabet soup aficionados prefer).

But nowadays the Ardern government has a majority in the House, there’s no need for compromises, and she and her team are full steam ahead with Maori wards, a Maori Health Authority and – on the labour market front – a bill to introduce Fair Trade Agreements next year.

FPAs are a set of terms and conditions – including wages and working hours – which employers in a particular sector will be forced to abide by, with the overall aim of raising workplace standards.

We get a whiff of what’s up (a pong, if you are an employer) from a Newshub report which foresees a return to National Awards, a long-abandoned system of wage negotiation based on the principle that basic terms and conditions were best established by the collective workforce. Continue reading “Get used to FPAs, if you are employing staff – and brace yourself to losing control over shaping what is a fair deal”

Centralisation is prescribed for our health system – but funding is an issue and see what has happened in transport and education

Health  Minister  Andrew  Little  says   the reforms the  government has  announced this week will  mean for the  first time  New Zealand will  have  “a  truly national  health  system”.

The  new  system  will consist  of  a  national  health  organisation,  a  Maori health authority,  and a  new  public  health authority to  centralise  public  health  work. The  Ministry of  Health  will remain  in  over-arching  control.

It  is  a  major  structural  reform, going even  further  than the  raft of initiatives proposed in the Heather Simpson  report.

So  will  Andrew  Little  be  top of  the  pops, the  only  minister (so far) in the  Ardern  government to deliver  a  radical new policy  to  reform  a  key  government  service?

Initial  reactions  seemed  highly  in favour.  The  Dominion-Post’s headline ran “Overhaul of  DHBs Welcomed”.  The NZ  Herald  was  even  more  vivid  in  its  imagery:  “The  faces  of  failure”, it  shouted, “Health overhaul  to end ‘postcode lottery’  comes too  late  for  these  loved ones”.

The  message  was  clear:  good  riddance  to  the  district health boards (generally known as DHBs). Continue reading “Centralisation is prescribed for our health system – but funding is an issue and see what has happened in transport and education”

Govt amputates the country’s 20 DHBs in its health restructuring but consults the Treaty to prescribe a balm for Maori

Health, health and health were the subjects of three ministerial posts  – two of them were speeches –  on the Beehive website this morning.

They spell out the government’s plans for comprehensively overhauling the country’s health system.

They also step up the pace in the government’s perturbing programme of creating an “us” and “them” racial divide.

In his speech, Health Minister Andrew Little says he is laying out “a plan to create a truly national public health service”. National, yes, but with a separatist component.

Little described it as a system that takes health services to the people who need them, no matter who they are or where they live, and which draws on the best of what we have now, but will enable doctors, nurses and other health workers to concentrate on patients “instead of battling bureaucracy”.

Then he insisted the restructuring “will reinforce Te Tiriti principles and obligations”.

Readers who check out the three articles of the Treaty for guidance on shaping a health system will be hard pressed to find what this should entail.

Little also brought the concept of a Treaty partnership into considerations:  he said the system must work in true partnership with Māori to improve services and achieve equitable health outcomes. Continue reading “Govt amputates the country’s 20 DHBs in its health restructuring but consults the Treaty to prescribe a balm for Maori”