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Whakamanawa report exposes health system racism

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A researcher on the Mental Health and Addictions Inquiry says the report on the Māori submissions must be released.

The 200-page Whakamānawa report was briefly available on the website of Māori health group Te Rau Matatini in December and then withdrawn.

A watered-down 75-page report was released in February, with all criticism of the inquiry process and the Health Ministry removed.

Lynne Russell says the removal of Whakamānawa from the debate is symptomatic of the way Māori were excluded from the process, with almost no Maori staff on the Department of Internal Affairs secretariat supporting the inquiry and no kaumatua available to guide the panel operating in such tapu areas.

Despite that Māori with experience of mental health and addiction and Māori working in the field did make submissions, and their voices need to he heard.

"It should be available to researchers so they can start plugging the gaps with relevant work. It should be available to academics so they can be asking the hard questions. Absolutely it should be available to policy makers and not just those in the Ministry of Health, so they can start creating the policy that effects the change we are asking for," Dr Russell says.

She says the Department of Internal Affairs and the Minister should be held accountable for what was a racist process.

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