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Alcohol and substance abuse have been identified as a priority for the current Waitangi Tribunal inquiry into the condition of NZ’s health services.
The inquiry is part of the Tribunal’s Kaupapa Inquiry Programme, which hears claims the tribunal believes to be ‘nationally significant’.
The tribunal is working its way through grievances lodged by a growing number of claimants (181 so far). Most of them claim the Crown has failed to deliver on promises to provide equitable health outcomes for Māori, or to work with Māori as true partners. Some raise issues around traditional Māori health like tohunga, some touch on drugs, and others focus on Māori with disabilities.
With so many claims to get through, the Tribunal has decided to hear them in stages – starting with this inquiry into primary care. Mental health, Māori with disabilities, and misuse of alcohol and other substance are likely contenders for stage two of the inquiry.
The Drug Foundation urges Māori to engage in this process and advocate for greater health equality and better outcomes for Māori. While some may see the Treaty claim process as lacking real impact, it’s still important that these issues are researched and recorded for future reference.