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A.E. Thompson: See What’s Happening in our New Health System

A friend of a friend, a clinician in the health field whom we shall call Bruce X who does not speak Maori language beyond some well-known words, recently applied for a position with one of the two government health organizations now in existence. His experience provided insight into our new health system and the Ardern government that created it.

The new organization’s correspondence featured a letterhead showing a large name in bold black ‘Te Whatu Ora’ with a smaller, much less imposing ‘Health New Zealand’ underneath it in light green. According to its own website, the Maori name can mean ‘the weaving of wellness’ and something about a basket but they acknowledge that it might mean other things instead. Note that ‘Te Whatu Ora’ doesn’t provide a clear idea of the role of this taxpayer-funded body, even for that small percentage of NZers who would understand the words.

Bruce’s correspondence then addressed him with ‘Kia Ora Mr X’ and finished with ‘Nga mihi’. Why have the long-standing conventions of letter writing been abandoned when writing to those who speak English?

The letters then signed off with the author’s name and two versions of the author’s role, the first one in Maori and the second in English. Most disciplines working in health care come squarely from international science, knowledge and non-Maori roots, so requiring Maori titles for such disciplines (e.g. Otorhinolaryngologist, Clinical Neuropsychologist, Cardiothoracic Surgeon), none of which had any comparable role in Maori culture, is fake, disrespectful and amounts to cultural appropriation.

Next, the sender’s information, address etc was at the bottom of the page and this stated only ‘Te Whatu Ora’, dispensing entirely with any English name. Instead of ‘Phone’ it used the term 'Waea Pukoro' which apparently means 'cell phone' even though the number given was a landline. When corresponding with an English-speaking person, why use a latterly invented Maori term for a piece of technology that arose entirely out of English-speaking culture? Surely that tramples all over the honour of that person’s culture?

The letters ended with 'Te Kawanatanga O Aotearoa' emphasized in bold and printed above 'New Zealand Government' in much less prominent font. Our Government's use and prioritizing of a new name for itself that has never been agreed to by the taxpayers who enable its existence seems a serious wrongdoing. As does the claim in this new name that our Government is of 'Aotearoa' even though the country's name has never been changed formally and certainly not democratically, and the term 'Aotearoa' is a post-colonial invention for the group of islands that Europeans and British first combined into a singular entity. Note also that our Ministry of Health is now called ‘Manatu Hauora’, its logo showing ‘Ministry of Health’ only as a tiny subscript underneath the new Maori term. Who knew this? At least it can be translated directly into ‘Ministry Health’, but why do we need Maorified versions of words such as ‘Ministry’ and ‘phone’ when non-Maori are now berated for pronouncing Maori terms in non-Maori ways?

Emails sent to Bruce were signed only with ‘Te Whatu Ora’, suggesting that employees are now required to use the Maori name but not the English name. Our $52-million-bribed mainstream media already exclusively refer to ‘Te Whatu Ora’. Why, when there is now a health body totally devoted to Maori health services, does the other health body supposedly serving the rest of us also need a prioritized Maori name? Does this indicate that the government’s intention is to have our whole health system controlled by tribal representatives and their particular idea of a ‘Maori world view’? Read the web sites of the two new health bodies and you will see that’s exactly the intention.

Bruce was then interviewed for the job by a selection panel. The non-Maori panelists introduced themselves in Maori language and one said a Maori prayer that included reference to ‘Atua’ (Christian god) and concluded with ‘amine’, a Maori way of saying ‘amen’. Bruce felt patronized by the Maori greetings he understood little of and he would have preferred his particular cultural origin to be acknowledged, but there you go. Also, Bruce is an atheist and was very uncomfortable being put in the position of passively supporting god worship in an office of secular government, but he wanted the job so he politely tolerated this gross disrespect for his beliefs.

Initial sections of the interview seemed sensible, concerning qualifications, experience, particular insights gained in previous roles and so forth. Then the panel introduced a section on cultural safety and announced that Te Whatu Ora (no mention now of that annoying English name) had identified Maori Health as a priority, and he was questioned around how he might handle a particular scenario involving a Maori family. Why, when we now all pay for an expensive health body exclusively for Maori, does the health service meant for everyone also prioritize Maori? Regardless, it seems that only Maori deserve cultural safety in our new health service even though Bruce’s extensive education had taught him about cultural safety for patients from many different races. A weird irony here was that Bruce’s own cultural safety was totally disregarded by the Maori greetings, prayer and absence of any gesture or communication showing interest in or respect for his culture or beliefs.

The panel then asked Bruce what was his understanding of Te Tiriti O Waitangi and its relevance for Maori Health. He could almost recite by memory the authoritative translation into English in 1922 by Sir Apirana Ngata (1874 – 1950) who will have known some of the chiefs who signed it or at least people who had been close to those chiefs, and who will have had a much better idea of what was understood by those chiefs than did any of the more recent Treaty revisionists. However, Bruce wanted the job so he ignored the wording of the Treaty and trotted out the requisite recent nonsense about it creating a partnership in government, guaranteeing Maori ‘equity’ with British subjects especially in how much they access and benefit from health care available to everyone, and promising that healthcare services would provide treatments according to some version of tikanga and a Maori world view.

The next question put to Bruce by the interview panel was how he would apply a Treaty of Waitangi framework to his practice if he got the job. Treaty of Waitangi framework?!! The bureaucrats who came up with this were clearly straining to conform to the ideological demands from on high. What intelligent person would believe that the Treaty of Waitangi has a framework or could guide medical practice? Bruce thought of suggesting one might consult Te Tiriti to help decide between a diagnosis of ear infection vs broken leg but thought better of it and instead talked about such things as removing potential barriers to Maori access to and trust in healthcare services even though there’s nothing suggestive of that in Te Tiriti.

Bruce scored well in his interview by being disingenuous. It seems a very dangerous predicament when government requires people to lie and to feign agreement with false propaganda in order to contribute their training and experience to our country. It’s totalitarianism, in our case racist, socialist totalitarianism. Who wanted this?

A.E. Thompson is a working, tax-paying New Zealander who speaks up about threats to our hard-fought rights, liberties, egalitarian values, rational thinking and fair treatment by the state. This piece was originally published at Breaking Views.

5,415 views188 comments


Brian Smythe
Brian Smythe
Nov 26, 2022

I am an 82-year-old fourth generation new Zealander, and retired lawyer proud of my British ancestry and cultural heritage, Over my lifetime I have related positively and happily with all and any persons of Maori descent. Racist issues never came into it . My maternal Great Grandfather was Major Cyprian Bridge. an officer in the British army sent in 1840 by Governor Hobson to quell post-treaty insurrection by Hone Heke. After several battles, with significant fatalities on both sides, they found peace and ultimately expressed respect for each other.

Today, I am appalled and alarmed at the unmandated and divisive actions of the Government [especially Te Pati Maori] as well as racist legislation and aggressive political discourse. Unless this …


Aaron Shanahan
Aaron Shanahan
Oct 19, 2022

Look. Let me make this clear.

Our health system should be based on all new Zealanders receiving the help they need

Not one race

Getting priority over another for shitty life choices

I'm simplistic, and polarizing, but this is the truth.

I smoke. Like a chimney. I love smoking. I'll pay for the inevitable cancer myself

I've made the shittiest life choice, but I'll pay for the freight.

Health insurance.

Get big and fat. I'll tell you now.

Get health insurance, and pay for it. Like me, you'd otherwise be a burden on the health system.

I've paid for my coffin

And I'll keep choofin at the ciggies


Oct 19, 2022
Replying to

While I can’t say smoking (anything) is appealing, your financial assistance to the NZ govt is acknowledged.

One stat I found, for example:

2020 - the tobacco industry paid around $1.8 b to the govt, 78% of which was in taxes.

Not a bad haul.


Don Howar'd
Don Howar'd
Oct 19, 2022

It's world wide. In America, they are taking a witch doctor oath at Minnesota medical school. "All indigenous ways of healing".

With gratitude, we, the students of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Medical School Class of 2026, stand here today among our friends, families, peer, mentors, and communities who have supported us in reaching this milestone. Our institution is located on Dakota land. Today, many Indigenous people from throughout the state, including Dakota and Ojibwe (ooj-jib-way), call the Twin Cities home; we also recognize this acknowledgment is not enough.

We commit to uprooting the legacy and perpetuation of structural violence deeply embedded within the healthcare system. We recognize inequities built by past and present traumas rooted in white supremacy,…


If you want to work in public service you tow the line, no questions asked.

Replying to

Not just working in public sector but if your business is doing any work with any govt entity. The brain drain is about to kick off.


About Bruce’s dilemma when he was interviewed for a NZ public service job.

“The non-Maori panelists introduced themselves in Maori language“. One said a Maori prayer.

“Bruce is an atheist and was very uncomfortable being put in the position of passively supporting god worship in an office of secular government”.

Exactly my experience when failing to grasp te reo many years ago. Also, my personal space was grossly invaded by a required hongi. Tutor said te reo required cultural knowledge. Although recalling not learning English culture’s Morris Dancing as I learnt English, I could hardly argue otherwise, as it would have been severely career limiting!

More seriously, nowadays in NZ, activists are eager to dispense with or tweak democracy.


Replying to

In reply to your comment re sticky-beaks, I am pretty sure that I am on their list for watching. I'm not sure why I should be as I do not advocate violence and as far as I know free speech is not yet an offence. No one should feel afraid of speaking out. That is how the likes of communism takes hold of the population. If the sticky-beaks stick to their jobs and do not allow themselves to become political puppets, then their is nothing to fear. It is when they become politicised that New Zealand democracy will be silenced. We must never allow that to happen.

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