Friday, November 18, 2022

Point of Order: Little announces booster shot for Maori health....

........while welcoming figures that show the benefits of a targeted approach

Point of Order’s Beehive monitors were treated to a double dose of Health Minister Andrew Little’s rejoicing today.

Little and Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare announced what they called a record funding boost for Māori primary and community healthcare providers as part of $71.6 million in commissioning investments by the Māori Health Authority.

Some would call this discriminatory spending. Little prefers to call it targeted.

The bullet points in the press statement show:

  • $29.3 million for interim New Zealand Health Plan priority areas
  • $13 million for Māori primary and community providers
  • $17.6 million for te ao Māori solutions, mātauranga Māori and population health
  • $11.7 million to support innovation, workforce development, and whānau voice.

In a second press release, Little seized on fresh New Zealand Health Survey data and told us this shows his government’s policies are improving the nation’s health and general well-being.

Little’s press releases were among several freshly posted on the Beehive website which show Jacinda Ardern’s hard-working team have been –

Health Minister Andrew Little (or one of his minions, perhaps) has been sifting through data gathered from the New Zealand Health Survey and is keen to share the good news.

Official statistics released today show the Government’s targeted health investments are making a real difference to New Zealanders, Health Minister Andrew Little says.

The health survey showed government policies such as making GP visits free for under 14s, increasing subsidies to visit the doctor, providing free school lunches to a million children a week and lifting family incomes “are making a real difference to New Zealand’s health, Little said.

The number of people not going to a doctor when they need to because of cost has fallen from 14.4 per cent in the year to July 2017 to 10.7 per cent in the year to July 2022 and the number of people not filling prescriptions because of cost has more than halved over the past decade, from 7.3 per cent in 2011/12, to 3.3 per cent.

The number of children living in homes where food sometimes runs out has halved, from 24.1 per cent in the 2012/13 year, to 12.5 per cent in 2021/22.

Little went on to say that this year, for the first time, the survey asked whether delays in getting an appointment has stopped people going to a GP.

The press statement does not tell us the findings but it does say the government has “a whole raft of things under way” to increase the number of GPs, including making it easier for overseas-trained doctors to move here and work, and increasing the number of GPs being trained each year from 200 to 300.

The statistics show 8.8 per cent of adults and 6.2 per cent of children reporting unmet needs for professional help to deal with emotions and stress, mental health and substance use.

We aren’t told if this is better or worse than before, but Little says the government is putting nearly $2 billion over four years into frontline mental health services to help prevent people with mild to moderate mental health issues becoming seriously unwell.

He said:

This survey provides a snapshot in the period immediately before our major health reform kicked in, creating a single, nationwide health system focused on providing healthcare for all New Zealanders.

Our health reforms and our ongoing investment in Māori health and mental health, alongside steps taken to reduce poverty and the health impacts of poverty, are shown to be working and making a difference to New Zealanders’ health.

Next year’s statistics – all going well – should show even more improvements, but will the minister be able to bray about this in time to influence how voters behave on election day?

Associate Foreign Affairs Minister Aupito William Sio delivered this speech, kicking off by saying this meeting of the foundation “is a chance for us to come together, and to discuss and learn from the lessons of our region’s rich history…”

Sio mentioned the government’s recent launch of the Aotearoa Pacific Wellbeing Strategy, described as “a seminal document with wide-ranging implications for the Pacific communities of Aotearoa (and beyond)”.

He mentioned the Pacific Resilience Approach (“a values-based approach, recognising that resilience is a holistic concept, where issues and priorities shift — and ebb and flow — in response to what is happening in the world around us”).

He spoke of a strong commitment to supporting broader ambitions for our region’s security, as set out in the region’s Biketawa and Boe Declarations”.

And he referred to something called Tuia te Waka a Kiwa, New Zealand’s Climate Finance Strategy (last week, the government announced it had committed NZ$20 million of its climate funding to address loss and damage in developing countries).

It has further committed to providing at least NZ$1.8 billion between 2021 and 2024

… in support of long-term regional investments in areas ranging from Pacific education, health systems, economic self-reliance, human rights and inclusive development, to governance and democracy, infrastructure development, policing and maritime security, and so much more.

Remind us – who was he addressing?

Oh, yes. The NZ Asia Foundation.

Health Minister Andrew Little and Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare welcomed the record funding boost for Māori primary and community healthcare providers as part of $71.6 million in commissioning investments by the Māori Health Authority.

This will fund new Māori workforce initiatives, increase the availability of te ao Māori services, and allow for innovation, the statement said.

The funding includes $13 million for contract increases with Māori primary and community providers and $11.7 million to support innovation and ensure diverse whānau voices inform the design and provision of healthcare, Peeni Henare said.

The new commissioning investments include $17.6 million to expand mātauranga Māori services, te ao Māori solutions, and population health, and workforce developments.

Te Aka Whai Ora (then the interim Māori Health Authority) announced its inaugural commissioning investment of $22 million in May 2022. More than 149 Māori providers have received funding to support innovation and sustainability, and funded Rongoā Māori services are now available throughout New Zealand through the establishment of four new Rongoā Māori providers and support for the existing 31 Rongoā Māori providers to expand their services.

David Clark, Minister of Digital Economy and Communications, announced some of New Zealand’s most remote communities will receive broadband for the first time thanks to a new Government-led initiative.

Through Budget 2022, $15 million was allocated towards funding the Remote Users Scheme, as part of the broader $60 million rural connectivity package announced earlier in the year.

Who will benefit and how will this be decided?

Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) will administer the Remote Users Scheme and will soon be calling for applications from potentially eligible households and communities.

A request for proposal from internet service providers will follow. It is expected that new broadband connectivity infrastructure for the eligible areas and households can begin being built in mid-2023.

Since the launch of the RBI2 initiative, over 75,000 rural homes and businesses have been provided with improved broadband connectivity, 364 new mobile towers have been built in rural areas, and 591 marae have received broadband connections.

The initiative has also connected 95 tourism sites and provided 1,059kms of rural state highway with mobile coverage, Clark said.

Further information about the Remote Users Scheme is available on the Crown Infrastructure Partner’s website.

The Associate Minister for the Environment, Phil Twyford has appointed an investigator, John Hardie, under part 4 of the Resource Management Act, to work with Christchurch City Council on its housing intensification plan.

The aim of the investigation is to understand the issues with housing intensification in Christchurch and explore a way forward, so the Christchurch City Council complies with the law

This sounds like the government wants to flex its muscle and lean on the council do its bidding.

But Twyford has a honeyed tongue:

Although we were disappointed with the decision made by the previous council not to notify a housing intensification plan change, the Government is committed to working with the new Mayor and the Christchurch City Council to find a path to delivering on increasing housing supply and affordability.

Twyford has also written to the new Christchurch Mayor, Phil Mauger regarding the previous Council’s decision not to notify a housing intensification plan change.

The plan changes are part of implementing the National Policy Statement on Urban Development and incorporating the medium density residential standards, which were introduced through the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021.

Formal decisions will be made on the next steps over the coming weeks.

Made by whom? Let’s wait and see.

Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall was given some new statistics from the New Zealand Health Survey to enable her to do some boasting, too.

The figures show New Zealand’s smoking rate has fallen to an historic low of 8% of adults smoking daily, down from 9.4% a year ago.

“The Government’s plan to reduce smoking is working. The number of people smoking fell by 56,000 over the past year, despite the pressures and stress of the pandemic, and smoking rates are now half of what they were 10 years ago,” Ayesha Verrall said

And let’s not forget the government’s enthusiasm for targets:

“Smoking rates are plummeting and our goal of being smokefree by 2025 is within reach.”

The Annual Update of Key Results 2021/22 New Zealand Health Survey can be found on the Ministry of Health website.

  • 8% of adults were daily smokers in 2021/22, down from 9.4% the previous year and 16.4% in 2011/12.
  • Daily smoking rates in 2021/22 are 19.9% for Maori, 18.2% for Pacific peoples, 7.2% European/other and Asian 2.6%.
  • 8.3% of adults are now vaping daily increasing from 6.2% in the past year.

Housing Minister Megan Woods was referring to the latest dip into a government trough when she announced that critical infrastructure projects will get Government support to unlock thousands more homes in communities around the country.

But not right around the country – other areas have had their funding already or must wait patiently for their turn, and we mightn’t see the results for 15 years.

Woods said the third round of funding from the Government’s Infrastructure Acceleration Fund (IAF) will invest $539.8 million on ground work like pipes, roads and flood protection to enable thousands of new homes in communities, from Kaikohe to Hokitika.

More specifically, a total of 13 proposals have been allocated funding from this round of the IAF in 11 centres of the country; Hamilton, Auckland, Tauranga, Christchurch, Kawakawa, Kaikohe, Westport, Upper Hutt, Waipukurau, Hokitika and Pahiatua.

Combined, they are expected to enable around 16,600 new homes to be built across multiple developments over the next 10 to 15 years.

Today’s announcement follows on from earlier IAF funding allocations of $6.1 million in December last year, $179 million in July, and $192 million last month (October).

To date, $916.3 million in IAF funding has been committed to infrastructure projects throughout the country.

Combined, these IAF-funded projects are expected to enable around 30,000 to 35,000 new homes for New Zealanders over the next 10 to 15 years, Megan Woods said.

Want to know more? Try

Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti announced the Government is committed to designing a system that better supports children and young people “with the highest needs”.

She was referring to the Highest Needs Review, launched in April 2021 and completed recently, with 1100 submissions received.

Based on feedback from the review, the government has agreed to substantial changes to ensure learners with the highest needs have their needs met, Tinetti said.

To ensure that the support system is better fit for purpose a mixed model approach will be developed that creates a partnership between the student, their whānau and the early learning centre or school.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton


K said...

Ask ANY nurse how they feel about do-little and his les.

robert Arthur said...

Presuambly the staff of the auditor general has been hugely increased to track all the lavish health expenditure. The DHBs were criticised for running deficits of a few million but ten million is now treated as petty cash.

robert Arthur said...

it is a great pity the Auckland Council did not aslo have the balls to reject the govt house zoning mandate. They did meekly protest but being Labour dominated were not going to push the point. With the huge effort and generous provison of the 2016 Auckland Unitary Plan the new zoning is a huge further imposition on the Council and citizens. With city population actually falling the need for great intensity is questionable. I am sure the Council could have tweaked the existing with far less potential pain for homeowners. I suspect many developers of the current innumerable apartments will fail because the huge premiums paid for suitably zoned sites, and the earthworks to comply, are now unnecessary for competing builds. Msm newspaper coverage of all this has been neglegible.