Budget devil in the detail

By Tumamao Harawira

In this year's budget, $579m has been earmarked for Māori health and wellbeing, with $188m for the Māori Health Authority, $39m to train the Māori Health Authority workforce, and $166m to the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency.

But Whānau Ora chief executive John Tamihere says Covid-related funding has gone - to the tune of $51m.

The government said yesterday it would 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.

Whānau Ora will receive $166m in additional funding but its chief executive, John Tamihere, says the new funding numbers are somewhat misleading. 

"We thought that we might have been able to be acknowledged and rewarded more for the significant efforts that our Whānau Ora network provided."

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.

Turning the clock back

"You just can't go from zero to hero and then turn the clock back to zero again overnight because you're dealing with individuals, kaimahi, and their whānau."

"We thought that we might have been acknowledged and rewarded more for the significant efforts our Whānau Ora network provided."

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

Tamihere also says, despite the huge sums announced as Māori-specific, that isn't necessarily the case.

"A lot of money is voted and counted Māori but it doesn't come to Māori by Māori for Māori. It goes as usual to Pākehā organisations, and then they flutter it and filter it, and then, if they fail us, we will be failed."