NZ Election 2020

STIR (Stop Institutional Racism) is disappointed only four political parties replied to a request to present their policies on institutional racism.

Events in Aotearoa New Zealand and in many other countries around the world this year emphasise institutional racism as an important issue that political parties should consider carefully.  Throughout our health, justice, education and welfare systems we see inequity and injustice enabled by institutional racism. The disparity in life expectancy of seven years between Māori and non-Māori is just one headline figure that highlights the problem that needs to be addressed.


Three parties acknowledge that our health system has not provided adequate healthcare for Māori and caused inequitable outcomes in health because of this.

Labour has introduced measures to help redress some of the barriers to health inequity and has a commitment to establishing a Māori Health Authority, which the Green Party supports.  Potentially, this will allow systemic changes to be made to healthcare for Māori. Having a 'seat at the table' is critical for Māori to determine their future health... and long overdue. However, we note that none of the parties have plans to support an independent Māori Health Authority that holds contracting and funding responsibilities, this ‘Alternative View’ had the approval of the majority of the panel and advisory members of the Health and Disability System Review. Further, it remains of grave concern that the inequities that are currently embedded in the National Bowel Screening Programme are not addressed by any of the responding parties.


The four parties that responded were TOP, Greens, Labour and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis party.  An initial request was made in August and three reminders sent.


STIR is a nationwide network of public health practitioners and academics committed to ending institutional racism within the public health sector.

Summary of policies institutional racism

The Green Party

The Green Party supports the rights of all New Zealanders to healthcare services, and equitable health outcomes for all, regardless of race. The Green Party acknowledges that the Crown has a responsibility under Te Tiriti o Waitangi to support and fund hauora Māori to redress existing health disparities. The Green Party acknowledge that Māori health needs have not been met under the current health system. We support the establishment of a Māori Health Authority alongside the Ministry of Health to embed mātauranga Māori within the health system. The Green Party recognise the need for more Māori health professionals through scholarships and professional development, enabling more Māori in management roles throughout the sector.

The Opportunities Party (TOP)

TOP has committed to ending institutional racism in the health sector, and more generally in New Zealand through the following: 

  • The development of a constitution that honours the Treaty of Waitangi, clarifies the rights of people and the environment.

  • Removing the barrier of cost to primary healthcare for visits to GP’s, nurses, and dentists. This will allow for more people from ethnic minorities to be diagnosed and treated.

  • Ensuring that primary health care services are engaged with the community they serve. For example, Māori nurses have been shown to be more effective as they are trusted in the community.

  • Greater provision for communities to have more say in the delivery of services, including, but not limited to healthcare, such as Whānau Ora, Oranga Tamariki, Kainga Ora and other areas of government. 



 Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

  • Recognises the Principles of Partnership in The Treaty of Waitangi. 

  • Māori are arrested at a rate of four times that of non-Māori, which the legalisation of cannabis will help to reduce.

  • We also advocate for the expungement of cannabis convictions to prevent negative future consequences, such as employment.



Labour Party 

  • Labour’s vision for health is to build a nation where all New Zealanders are able to live longer and healthier lives because they have the knowledge to make informed health decisions and the support of a strong and adequately funded public health system. 

  • Labour will address major health inequalities in New Zealand, including health outcomes for Māori and Pacific people. We believe reprioritising critical health expenditure can address health inequalities by dealing with the root causes of poor health.  

  • In Government we made equity an overarching priority for the health portfolio. The Ministry of Health began its ‘Achieving equity’ work programme in 2018 as a result. 

  • Having a common understanding of equity is an essential foundation for coordinated and collaborative effort to achieve equity in health and wellness. The Ministry’s definition of equity is – 

  • “In Aotearoa New Zealand, people have differences in health that are not only avoidable but unfair and unjust. Equity recognises different people with different levels of advantage require different approaches and resources to get equitable health outcomes.” 

  • This work programme aims to facilitate an equity focus across the health system’s operational landscape while promoting the cultural shift needed to affect the system change that achieves equity in health outcomes. 

  • Collaboration is a key part of making equity real. The Ministry is working closely with communities and organisations across Aotearoa New Zealand to make health outcomes more equitable.

  • The Health and Disability System Review also focussed on equity. When the review was launched, the Minister of Health said – “We need to face up to the fact that our health system does not deliver equally well for all. We know our Māori and Pacific peoples have worse health outcomes and shorter lives. That is something we simply cannot accept.”


  • In Government we have started reducing barriers to access for Māori by – 

    • ​launching ‘Whakamaua: Māori Health Action Plan 2020-2025’, which sets our direction for Māori health advancement over the next five years;

    • boosting funding for Whānau Ora, i.e. by $80 million over four years in Budget 2019, and $136 million over two years in Budget 2020;

    • making doctors’ visits cheaper or free for nearly 600,000 New Zealanders;

    • extending school-based health services (or ‘nurses in schools’) to all public decile 4 secondary schools in Budget 2018 (an extra 24,000 students), and then to the first tranche of decile 5 secondary schools in Budget 2019 (a further 5,600 students);

    • extending the National Bowel Screening Programme, with the roll-out due for completion by the end of next year; and 

    • establishing a new universal frontline mental health service, expected to help 325,000 people with mild to moderate mental health and addiction needs by 2023/24. 


But we know there is more to do. 

  • Labour has accepted the case for reform and direction of travel outlined in the Final Report of the Health and Disability System Review. This election we have committed to –  

    • establishing a Māori Health Authority, to be the principal advisor on all hauora Māori issues, and to lead the development of a strengthened Māori workforce and the growth of a wider range of kaupapa Māori services across the country;

    • investing an extra $200 million in PHARMAC to increase access to modern medicines and new cancer drugs;

    • improving access to dental care by investing in 20 additional mobile dental clinics to make it more accessible for children and young people;

    • continuing the five-year rollout of frontline mental health services across New Zealand, provided in general practices, kaupapa Māori, Pacific, and youth settings;

    • expanding the Healthy Homes Initiative for housing basics like heaters, curtains, bedding and floor covering;

    • strengthening healthy home compliance and enforcement efforts by Tenancy Services;

    • establishing a national register to actively track and treat rheumatic fever patients; and

    • implementing a Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan.

  • You can read our health policy in full by visiting the Labour website. 

  • We remain committed to fulfilling our vision for health, where all New Zealanders are able to live longer and healthier lives. That means addressing major health inequalities in New Zealand, particularly for Māori.