April 22, 2020
Structural racism claim in pandemic response
A south Taranaki iwi leader says she fears her region isn’t ready to drop down to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 because of the structural racism of its medical authorities.
Debbie Ngarewa-Packer from Ngāti Ruanui says iwi in Taranaki and Whanganui have had to fight to get their concerns addressed, including low rates of testing of Māori.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic Ngāti Ruanui struggled with the DHB about resources allocated to its rohe, to the extent it bought up medical practices in Hawera and Patea to ensure services were maintained.
She says while central government has moved to address problems with the pandemic response they are drawn to their attention, it’s a different story with DHBs.
“We are knocking heads with DHB CEOs and chief medical officers who are challenging us because they don’t trust we know what is required for our iwi. I think these are power-sharing struggles. There has been ridiculous resourcing issues so it has been a classic case of institutionalised racism at its bloody worst when we have been at our most vulnerable, during a pandemic,” Ms Ngarewa Packer says.
She says the Government needs to align with iwi leaders and the Māori Party to ensure there is a brown recovery.
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