$579m Māori health and wellbeing package revealed

By Will Trafford

Associate Health Minister (Māori) Peeni Henare Photo/ NZME

The government will invest almost $600 million in Māori Health and wellbeing over the next four years, predominantly for the new Māori Health Authority and Whānau Ora commissioning agency.

The pūtea announced in today’s 2022 budget by Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Associate Health Minister (Māori) Peeni Henare will see $188.1 million for the new Māori health authority, over the four years.

"This is for direct commissioning of services and more support for iwi-Māori partnership boards to ensure the voice of iwi and whānau is strongly represented across our new Māori healthcare system," Associate Minister of Health (Māori) Peeni Henare says.

"We are also investing $39 million to provide the Māori health workforce with additional access to training and development to support them within the new health system," he said.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson defended criticism that the pūtea may not be enough to address decades-long inequities within healthcare by saying the money is the beginning of successive, regular investments into the system.

"I’m extremely proud of this budget," Henare says. "This is about delivering sustained investment over a long period of time."

"The other thing I needed to assure the [finance] minister is  our Māori health organisations have the capacity to deliver these services as we fund them."

Budget 2022 also includes $166 million in additional funding for the Whānau Ora commissioning agency.

Whānau Ora commissioning agency boss John Tamihere told Whakaata Māori he welcomed the increase in funding but said the new funding numbers were somewhat misleading.

‘The thing is, during Covid, we ramped up our services with vaccination and testing and family support, now that covid funding is going away, this new funding means we will actually still be down $95 million’.

Tamihere says Whānau Ora is having to embark on ‘painful’ cost-cutting, including job losses, to get staffing and resource levels back to pre-covid levels.

‘Whānau Ora is one of the few programmes actually measured [and] it’s extraordinarily successful. We were hoping that we would be rewarded for our people’s hard work up and down the country’. He added.

Among the Budget’s other big-ticket items is $155 million of investments into Māori trades training and supporting businesses to employ more Māori.

Associate Minister (Health) Peeni Henare revealed nearly $600 million for Māori health and wellbeing over the next four 4 years. Photo/ Will Trafford

Associate Minister (Health) Peeni Henare revealed nearly $600 million for Māori health and wellbeing over the next four 4 years. Photo/ Will Trafford

Some $200 million of additional funding will be provided to support Māori education, with $47 million going to funding full immersion Māori language programmes as part of the government plan to have one million fluent te reo Māori New Zealanders by 2040.

Māori broadcasting will also receive $41 million over the next two years, with the specifics of additional funding for Te Matatini to be unveiled in coming weeks.

The government’s $4.5 Billion Climate Emergency Response Fund (CERF) will see $162 million set aside for transitioning whenua Māori entities to lower emission land use, and developing a Māori Climate Action Plan.