Critical te Tiriti analysis of the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026

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Leanne Manson
Tim McCreanor
Heather Came


disabilities, policy analysis, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, health inequities, Māori, human rights, Indigenous


Health policy is one mechanism to address inequities and protect Indigenous people’s access to the shared human right to health. Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Māori text) negotiated between the British Crown and Māori (the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa) outlines the social contract between Māori and Non-Māori. It was negotiated in part to protect Māori health. Within Aotearoa there continues to be significant ethnic inequities in disabilities. This paper undertakes a retrospective Critical Tiriti Analysis of the New Zealand Disability Strategy to determine its compliance with Te Tiriti. It also considers whether such an analysis might strengthen responsiveness to Indigenous peoples elsewhere. This analysis involved a five-phase process of review. Through our analysis we identified poor to fair engagement with the responsibilities outlined in Te Tiriti o Waitangi. There were promising statements about the special relationship between the Crown and Māori, conflicting statements about governance and self-determination, and limited engagement with ethnic specific equity concerns or spirituality. To strengthen the Strategy the authors determined Tāngata whaikaha (Māori disabled people’s) views needed to be more strongly centered within the structure and content. The historical and contemporary determinants of Māori health needed to be included along with deeper engagement with intersectionality and Te Tiriti o Waitangi responsibilities. Undertaking critical policy analysis is an effective method to inform and review policy that may be applicable in other settler-colonial contexts with significant ethnic health inequities.   

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