'We'll make the best of it' - Ngāi Tahu CEO on Budget 2022

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Iwi organisation Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu was keenly watching the government's budget announcements yesterday and chief executive Arihia Bennett’s first impression of it was, she says, “a broad budget”.

Ngāi Tahu is kaitiaki of one the largest regions in Aotearoa with varied investments including tourism, fisheries, property and forestry.

“I thought there could have been a lot more dedicated to Māori whānau in terms of expanding and broadening health and wellbeing," she says.

“[With] that said, I’m very interested in what has been delivered to Māori and, of course, we’ll make the best of it.”

With Finance Minister Grant Robertson providing some relief via the $350 payment to some New Zealanders and other policies, Bennett says it’s focused on wellbeing.

“Other parts like insulation, heating too - those policies are dedicated and focused on a lot of our Māori whānau where they do need that top-up and support.

Disability funding welcomed

"[It’s a] great assistance but I think there is a lot more work to be done in terms of looking at the depth of moving whānau into those higher groups of salary and income for the home.”

She also says keeping the cost of public transport at half price plus fuel tax cuts “really do help”.

Bennett is "really pleased" with the funding for health, such as disability.

“It’s an area the community has been looking at many years, [including] the Māori community and across Aotearoa, especially around mental health.

“I’m particularly interested and grateful [that we’re] starting to move into the climate change area. We have about four and a half billion dollars going into a number of projects.

“When we talk about sustainability and emissions, those are the sorts of things that iwi Māori have been focused on mai rā anō.”