It’s appropriate that I give my view on our just released Budget. Already you have seen the misinformed and nonsensical views from the National and Māori Party on how ‘wonderful’ they were last time and how we ‘missed the boat’ this time. So let me tell you just how big the boat is that we have caught.
We’re putting more money into the pockets of Māori whānau across the country than the previous Government ever did – that is an undisputable fact.
Before I spell out the facts, people must be clear that Government’s run dual strategies for Māori. The first one is a universal strategy and the second one is a targeted strategy. Anybody who thinks that a Government should just have a targeted strategy funding Māori programmes and kaupapa only, is deluded, and more than likely a member of the Māori Party!
Although some of us practice things Māori every day and our whole world is about te ao Māori, we are sadly in the minority. Most Māori kids don’t speak Māori, don’t go to Māori schools, most Māori families don’t engage with the marae and most of our people are not on the Māori roll. That’s the reality, and that’s what we have to deal with in politics.
So with that being the case we have to have policies that deal with that reality but we must also provide resourcing and funding for Māori providers, whom I have always been a strong advocate for.
This budget’s emphasis is obviously on the universal strategy, but unlike the previous Government’s universal strategy, this is a strategy which will make sure Māori get the benefits. This budget will see that Māori are provided for in accommodation supplements ($265 million), family tax credits ($443 million), winter energy payments ($274 million) and in Best Start ($250 million). In simple terms, hundreds of thousands of Māori will get an extra $75 per week going to their whānau from July 1. Those are the universal benefits that Māori will enjoy and we know this because for the first time ever in the history of budgets we were able to get the specific spend that MĀORI will get.
The effect of combining universal funding with targeted funding means the sum total is far more for Māori than the previous Government’s budgets.
As the Māori Campaign Director during the Election, I made it clear along with our other Māori MPs that health, housing, employment and education were our main priorities – and Labour has delivered for us in this Budget. In terms of our targeted funding, obviously there are some disappointed providers however we won’t apologise for having a general universal approach for this budget. Unlike the Māori Party, we couldn’t give extra funds while we had some of our people sleeping in cars in South Auckland and not being able to access basic health rights.
Our providers will have to wait for now while we focus on the majority of Māori who are not engaged in the Māori provider space. Of course we are still committed to our provider groups, particularly in the Whānau Ora, Māori TV, Māori radio and Māori health space – in fact, right across the Maori spectrum and I can assure all our people who work in those areas that our Māori Caucus will be making a big effort to increase their funding and resources in the next two budgets.
But we have been left a mess and while the Māori Party might have got a few more dollars than us last time in targeted funding, it was absolutely inconsequential while our people were living in cars, our hospitals were falling apart, our young people were wandering around doing nothing and our infrastructure was crumbling.
As well as that we had the terrible Ture Whenua legislation, projected oil and gas expansion, state rentals sell off – I could go on and on and on. All of this has been stopped and we are now on the right track.
Get behind our Māori Caucus and Roopu Reipa, this is just the beginning.