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There is no doubt that the Labour’s Māori caucus has delivered for Māori in Budget 2021.

Not wanting to be disrespectful to others, much of that is because of my Ngati Porou cousin Willie Jackson.

As Minister of Māori Development, a portfolio that stretches right across the whole of government, he and his Māori caucus colleagues are starting to draw money from a number of mega ministries to drive and support Māori-led initiatives.

What I like about Budget 2021 is that the bottom end of town are finally getting to drink at the well.

To some who earn good money, $35-$55 extra per week doesn’t seem like much, but to those in our streets, it will make a big difference.

I am not a die-in-the-wool hater of any government and you have to give credit where it is due.

If a government brings out poor policy or programmes to Māori, then you have to call them out.

Budget 2021 from a Māori perspective is one of the best we have seen in a generation.

But here’s the problem. 

We have 11,100 whānau waiting to get into a social house. The government’s housing announcement will house 10% of Māori – so we still have 90% languishing in motels or emergency housing. Is the government on the right track as far as housing goes? Yes, but more has to be done.

In the health area, the government has made good moves with the establishment of a stand-alone Māori Health Authority. They are investing to ensure the authority is financially well established and Māori run and designed health programmes are adequately funded. 

But what is disturbing is that Whānau Ora got no extra funding.

To run Māori health initiatives you need the Whānau Ora providers throughout the country working well and being well resourced. In the budget, Whānau Ora is lauded as one of the stand out wellbeing policies within the government suite.

If that’s true, it should have been rewarded. 

It didn’t matter the amount of extra funding, but you should have rewarded your frontline workers who stood up during the Covid lockdowns, and who are again at the forefront of the vaccinations. They should be acknowledged.

It would have been an unblemished budget but for the silliness of not putting up a Whānau Ora Budget Bid.

You need whānau who are able to deliver goods and services into your communities and unless you honour and support them who is going to deliver the service and be the navigator and kaiarahi for whānau to support whānau aspirations?

We are sick and tired of bureaucrats who don’t live or are not part of our communities making decisions for us.

That is the big glaring hole and I’m hopeful Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare will look at how he fixes that.

21 May 2021

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