The Māori post-budget roadshow kicked off this morning in Wellington and while Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson conceded the Māori funding wasn't equitable, he said his priority was always to secure the best deal.
In a humorous address this morning at Te Puni Kōkiri, Minister Jackson didn’t waste time biting back at critics who said the Māori portion of the Budget was inequitable.
Now, with two record-breaking government funding drops for Māori, Jackson is certain things are better.
“You see it's not about rangatiratanga here. I always say that it's about getting the deal. Equity is miles away but we're getting better,” he said.
“It is a struggle, we go out and fight every day for our people to get pūtea. This is back-to-back billion-dollar budgets for Māori which is unheard of,” Minister Kelvin Davis said.
Te Matatini unhappy
Minister Kiritapu Allan acknowledged the hard work the ministers do to get funding across the line with the budget.
“People look at these things and ask, 'Is this equity?' No. Is it hard to get this type of baseline funding uplift? Incredibly hard. Is it a turning point? I hope so.”
The Māori budget saw baseline increases across the board in health, employment, whenua, mātauranga Māori, and arts and heritage. More funding was allocated to trades training, a project Jackson said had a proven track record for good outcomes for Māori.
“For years people told me we had to bring it back - it's going through the roof. The cadetships help a lot of these young ones,” he said.
Meanwhile, Te Matatini has criticised its additional $1 million budget. Although welcoming the new money Te Matatini says it's disappointing that it isn't sufficient or recognises the impact Kapa Haka has in Aotearoa.
In a statement, Te Matatini chief executive Carl Ross expressed his concern: “The government must address the inequities Māori continue to face. Kapa haka is unique to Aotearoa. New Zealanders are recognised for kapa haka internationally and yet, here at home, we continue to be underfunded for the significant benefits kapa haka provides to our society,” Ross said.
The next stop for the roadshow will be in Dunedin next Tuesday.