The purpose of this qualitative research is to define barriers/enablers that affect Maori access to quality healthcare by exploring the complex interplay between the health system, healthcare processes and individual/community factors. Primary data was collected from a sub-sample of Christchurch Maori in the Hauora Manawa Heart Study. In-depth interviews with 41 purposely-selected participants provided insights into their perceptions and experiences of engaging with the health system. These accounts describe the treatment of illness within a context of 'universal' provision of health care (based on Western biomedical concepts of disease) delivered by predominately non-Maori professionals, during clinical encounters that are influenced by multiple sociocultural factors: these include asymmetric power relations, social class disparities and divergent beliefs, values and behaviours about health and healthcare, together with racial prejudices and stereotyping. Critical thematic analysis will analyse and interpret results. Understanding the Maori consumers' perspective is fundamental to ameliorating persistent Maori/non-Maori health disparities.