Waikato-Tainui Te Arataura chair Linda Te Aho says while some will criticize the government’s budget announced yesterday, she is rapt.
“You can’t please everybody. I really do feel like the Māori MPs have done their work and I can see the proof of that. They’re delivering on a lot of promises that they’ve made," she says.
“When you look at beneficiaries getting an increase, there’s a focus on education, there’s a focus on health, there’s a focus on housing - these are all things Māori have been asking for and that iwi organisations want to partner with to deliver better results for our people.”
Increase in benefit rates
She says a highlight of the budget was the increase in benefit rates. As part of the funding, from July 1 this year, all benefit rates will increase by $20 a week. A second increase will occur on April 1 next year. Whānau with children will also receive a further $15 per adult per week.
Te Aho says this is necessary, particularly for people who have never been beneficiaries before but lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This government is providing some well-deserved support for them to just get back up on their feet and rebuild as we all rebuild after Covid-19.”
As part of the Budget 2021, $380 million has been allocated to delivering about 1,000 new homes for Māori including papakāinga housing, repairs to about 700 Māori-owned homes and expanding support services.
It will also include $30 million to go toward building future capability for iwi and Māori groups to accelerate housing projects and a range of support services.
“It’s something Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised at Waitangi to the iwi leaders. She said in effect ‘You bring the land, we’ll bring the houses’. We’ve got land that we can contribute. We’ve got navigators who can wrap services around whānau with financial literacy programmes, assistance with unlocking their KiwiSaver money to provide their deposits. So we’re only going to succeed through these types of partnerships.”
Te Aho is also pleased the housing funding is targeted, especially for papakainga initiatives.
“Papakainga take many forms. They’re not just the ones out on the pā, which are really important, but we have one here in Kirikiroroa in the city, Te Karearea, which we partnered with the Crown and local government for and we’ve provided 50 new houses for whānau in the centre of Kirikiroa," she says.
“Housing is a super lever for health and wellbeing for financial stability so I think that they’re really touching on some of these key messages that iwi have been advocating for.”