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Border review pair bring baggage

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The chief executive of a Māori medical service is unhappy at the appointment of a long time public sector troubleshooters Sir Brian Roche and Heather Simpson to head a review of the border testing strategy.

Simon Royal from the National Hauora Coalition says the pair were on the health and disability sector review and overruled the advice of Māori experts and the majority of the review’s own members on the need for Māori to play in a greater role in health service delivery.

He says the impact of failings at the border has fallen on Pacific and Māori shoulders, and there would be no shortage of Māori who could serve on such a panel, such as former Civil Defence head Sir Wira Gardiner.

"Anything to do with COVID-19 and uncovering strategies to reduce the spread of this virus ought to be directly involving Māori, should consult with Māori as treaty partners. Their own legislation governing all health-related activities including management of communicable diseases has sitting over it a treaty clause and a Māori responsiveness plan that seems to get ignored when it suits the government," Mr Royal says.

Many of those caught up in the south Auckland outbreak were registered with National Hauora Coalition practices, and the coalition has provided assistance with contact tracing and engaging with Māori and Pacific communities.

Meanwhile, Housing Minister Megan Woods yesterday announced a $6 million rollout of additional security enhancements for managed isolation and quarantine facilities.

They include thermal CCTV that triggers an alarm if returnees break out, audible alarms on fire exits and electronic access systems to restrict or track movement around a facility.

The Government will also trial a COVID card for staff which can track movements within facilities to enable rapid contact tracing.

Dr Woods says managed isolation and quarantine facilities are commercial hotels with security systems that support the hotel function but there is room to improve these systems to better protect communities from COVID-19.

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