Wellington regional DHBs are prioritising Māori and Pasifika patients who are on waiting lists for surgeries.
People get ordered first by urgency, then by the time they have been waiting and finally by ethnicity.
Capitol and Coast DHB John Tait told Andrew Dickens giving Māori or Pasifika first crack comes down to a number of factors.
"One is we know that Māori and Pasifika have much poorer health outcomes. We also know they have difficulty in accessing healthcare and there are delays in them getting to the system, the hospital system."
Mr Tait adds it is unlikely other patients will be significantly affected, and urgent cases are always treated first.