In December 2023 a claim was filed in the Waitangi Tribunal seeking an urgent inquiry into the new government’s intention to disestablish Te Aka Whai Ora, the Māori Health Authority.

Te Aka Whai Ora was established following the 2019 Waitangi Tribunal report Hauora: Report on Stage One of the Health Services and Outcomes Kaupapa Inquiry. In this report, the Tribunal recommended that the government introduce a stand-alone Māori health authority.

Following the release of this report, the government at the time passed the Pae Ora Act 2022, which established Te Aka Whai Ora.

The new government recently announced its plan to disestablish Te Aka Whai Ora in its first 100 days.

The claim filed in the Waitangi Tribunal requesting an urgent hearing into the government’s proposed plan alleges that disestablishing Te Aka Whai Ora is inconsistent with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

If an application for urgency is granted the hearing of the claim will be prioritised over other claims.

The Tribunal will only grant an urgent hearing in exceptional cases where the applicant fulfils the following criteria:

  • That the applicants are suffering, or are likely to suffer, significant and irreversible prejudice as a result of current or pending Crown actions;
  • That there is no alternative remedy that, in the circumstances, it would be reasonable to exercise; and
  • That the applicants are ready to proceed urgently to a hearing.

The Tribunal is currently considering whether to grant an urgent inquiry.

This is not the only application for an urgent Tribunal hearing regarding the government's 100-Day Plan; another claim has been filed which alleges that the government’s plans breach Te Tiriti o Waitangi by failing to protect te reo Māori.

Specifically, the claim refers to the government’s instructions that government departments use their English (rather than Māori) names, and the proposal to introduce a Treaty Principles Bill.

For more information on what you need to know when making an urgency application in the Waitangi Tribunal, read our article here