New Zealand First is accusing the Ministry of Health of spending $1.9 million annually on traditional Maori healing without knowing how many people are being treated or if it is even working.
"Keeping alive traditional Maori healing is important but it shouldn't be at the expense of proven, effective modern medicine known to help and save lives," the party's leader Winston Peters said on Sunday.
Information obtained from Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia revealed a glaring lack of transparency over funding for Rongoa Maori traditional healing service, he said.
The ministry did not know how many individual patients were being treated, only that there were 57,000 "client contacts" over four years.
That equated to about $133 for each client contact.
"There is no way this should be part of the government's health budget," Mr Peters said.
There were also no statistics kept on the success rate. "So how can the government justify dishing out about $7.6 million to these alternative healers?"
In response to questions from NZ First, Ms Turia said the ministry had contracts with 15 Rongoa Maori providers, but she could not say how many people were involved.
"The success rate in `healing patients' through Rongoa Maori services is not monitored or evaluated," she said.
She then quoted the ministry's own website on Rongoa Maori, saying it was "informed by a body of knowledge that has as its core the enhancement of Maori wellbeing".
The website defines the focus of Western medical paradigm as "the absence of health and wellbeing".
Rongoa Maori is based on understanding the events leading up to ill health and addressing it through a range of culturally bounded responses, such as with native herbal preparations, massage and prayer.