Māori trade training underspend a 'failure' - Nats' Louise Upston

By Whatitiri Te Wake

The government has come under fire for its delay in getting people into trade training schemes.

Budget 2020 saw an allocation of $50 million to get whānau into the schemes but two years later not even half the money has been spent. 

It was money tagged to help whānau who were without mahi due to Covid-19. National's social development spokesperson, Louise Upston, says the underspend is concerning.

“We want to see the government treat this as an urgent issue, get the money out the door and actually start delivering for Māori looking for work,” she said.

Over the two years just $12 million has been spent of the $50 million available to get whānau into trades schemes.

Social Development  Minister Carmel Sepuloni concedes there has been difficulties.

“With a lot of Māori organisations across the country, it was starting from scratch, so some support was needed to go in there first and at the moment it's being oversubscribed,” she says.

Jackson passionate on trades training

But Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson isn't concerned at the underspend.

“Kei te mohio rātou he uaua ki te whakatika, ki te whakatakoto I te huarahi mo te hunga rangatahi i roto i enei kaupapa. Ehara I te mea e awangawanga i tēnei wā.”

“They know it's hard to start up and plan the path for young people in these initiatives. We’re not worried at the moment,” he says.

Despite the shadow minister's criticism of the scheme, she did not offer any solution. But she says she is committed to getting accountability for the underspend.

“If you're not using that funding and it's not connecting it to the very people who need it, then it’s a failure,” she says.

Trades training is something Jackson feels passionate about. He recalls an earlier version of the programme proved successful for Māori in the 1950's.

"He rawe tēnei kaupapa, mo ngā rangatahi ki te tiki ake i ngā pukenga"

"This is a great way for young people to pick up these skills."

Sepuloni is certain about the scheme,  saying there wouldn’t be investment if the government didn’t think it is effective.