Poverty still the focus despite Māori Party gains

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

The Māori Party has been praised by Māori leaders for their gains in yesterday's Budget announcement, but a Māori community advocate says more work still needs to be done to address poverty among whānau living in Auckland. 

A buffet meal was on the menu at the Māori Party post-budget breakfast this morning. But it was the less fortunate whānau at the forefront of their guests' minds.

Sharon Hawke from Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrakei told Te Kāea, “Children are homeless and hungry. There's no good health care for all. The important thing is for Māori to receive assistance, education, and jobs for families.”

An extra $41.1 million will be spent over the next four years on emergency housing and a new Special Needs Grant.  However, this Māori community advocate believes a united front from Māori is also needed to help combat homelessness.

Dame June Mariu says, “My hope is that money will be given to those in need of housing.  But, all Māori need to think about how we can address this issue.”

Earlier this month the Minister of Māori Development Te Ururoa Flavell announced an extra $12.6 million will be allocated to Māori housing, but admits it isn't a quick fix.

“I can't fix every problem, difficulty, and hardship.  Instead, I will look at what resources I have available,” says Flavell.

More than a third of New Zealanders considered to be severely deprived of housing are Māori. The Māori Housing Network got $17.6 million a year for Māori housing.

Flavell says, “There are those who are homeless and those who are wanting to build a home. Therefore, when making decisions I want to give funds to help those who are living in poverty.”

West Auckland's Hoani Waititi marae are considering whether they will also provide temporary relief for whānau in need.