Regional | Bayden Barber

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson defends Budget's Māori package

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson said it was a difficult Budget to negotiate.  Source / Whakaata Māori


Māori Ministers and leaders from across Māoridom on Friday met to discuss the Budget over breakfast.

The total Māori package in this year's Budget was $825 million, down from $1 billion last year.

But Minister of Māori Development Willie Jackson defended the Budget, saying initiatives outside of the Māori specific package would still benefit Māori people.

"This has been one of the hardest Budgets to negotiate, given we're dealing with crisis in different areas. So when you are dealing with crisis in terms of just getting people back living."

Included in the Budget was $200m in extra funding to build and repair more homes through the Whai Kāinga Whai Oranga programme.

Ngāti Kahungunu chair Bayden Barber was one of the iwi representatives looking to secure safe housing in flood damaged Hawke's Bay.

"I think over all it's been a pleasing Budget, lots to be taken out of it but the challenge will be getting that money out to those that need it as fast as possible, not getting caught up in the red tape, that's always my challenge to the government," he said.

Barber said he was pleased to see money going in to making sure that communities are climate change resilient.

Over two years, $51m will go to Māori media.

Jackson said the government was looking at the best way to ensure that funding would reach Māori language media and support Māori stories in the mainstream.

It was also a priority to connect with Pacific voices, he said.

"How are we going to utilise some of the strong Pacific links and voices and really get the benefits of this Budget, not just at a Māori level or a Pasifika level but at a mainstream level."

Another $225m will go towards Māori education, with a focus on infrastructure. Many kura have struggled with old or substandard buildings for years.

Jackson said increasing pay for Māori medium teachers would be a big challenge for the government going forward.

He pointed to the recent pay rise for kōhanga reo teachers as an example of the work this government has done.

"One of the things we are proud of is the way Kelvin Davis has worked with the kōhanga reo movement in terms of getting parity there. You've got to remember that we can't solve everything but I think we are on the way."

The Budget also included $168.1m over four years for Whānau Ora, $34m over two years for Te Matatini, $18m over four years for Matariki, and an $8m boost for Māori tourism.