Labour defend lower-increase in Māori money

Labour has defended the lower increase in Māori funding in the budget compared to last year saying “We’re not comparing apples with apples". Despite having a Māori caucus of 13, the amount allocated for Māori in the budget was less than half of the money secured in Nationals last budget in Government. Money for Māori in this year’s budget was $53.7 million compared to $122 million last year. But Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta doesn’t believe it is a fair comparison.

“We’re not comparing apples with apples, we need to remember that the last government was prepared to sell off state houses, they were prepared to let people sleep in cars, they weren’t investing in a health system that delivered to the majority of our people," says Mahuta.

The then spokesperson for Māori Development and now Labour Party Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis said after last year’s budget, securing $122 million for Māori funding by the Māori Party was ‘crumbs’ and that ‘if that’s all they can secure, then they need to go’. Labour says there are gains for Māori in many different areas in the budget.

Mahuta told Kawekōrero, “If you look across the whole budget, it is investing in areas that there will be an immediate impact. If you look at the families package, the winter payment, to ensure that our whānau are able to secure support if they are living in houses with children, the payment of clothing allowances in which are our grandparents who are looking after children are all areas that will benefit.”

Whānau Ora was a big loser in the budget, not receiving any extra funding. Minister Mahuta said that it was because it was under review.

“Minister Henare who is responsible for the portfolio has indicated that he wants a review to look at the way that Whānau Ora is commissioning for outcomes," says Mahuta.

"Nobody has closed the door on what the future will look like and the minister wants to make sure that he can secure opportunity and support in other areas, especially when a commissioning approach might get cut through and get better outcomes.”

The Labour Party said during the campaign that they would invest an extra $20m into Whānau Ora.