There are fears the Government could begin scrapping the Māori Health Authority before a legal challenge against the move can be heard by the Waitangi Tribunal.

Crown lawyers have told the Tribunal a Bill to disestablish the authority could be introduced as early as next Tuesday – just days before an urgent hearing into the Māori Health Authority begins in Wellington.

If that happened, the urgent hearing could be dismissed, because the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to consider issues that were before Parliament.

The legal challenge was filed in December over concerns that disestablishing the Māori Health Authority would be a breach of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Health Minister Dr Shane Reti confirmed to 1News the Bill would be introduced sometime next week, but he said he did not know the exact date.

“The date to give effect to this commitment is expected to be next week, however Parliamentary timings are always subject to change,” he said.

“Timing for the introduction of this legislation has not been set based on a Waitangi Tribunal hearing timeline – it simply reflects the 100-day plan concluding by 8 March.”

He said it should be no surprise to anyone that the Bill was a priority for the Government.

“Each of the coalition partners included the disestablishment in its manifesto and this was also extensively campaigned on during the 2023 election,” he said.

He acknowledged the concerns and energy the claimants and interested parties had invested in bringing their claim to the Tribunal, and the work of the Tribunal which was still in progress.

“After the legislation comes into effect, the Waitangi Tribunal will again have jurisdiction to consider a claim.”