Budget 2018: 'Kick in the guts' for Whānau Ora

6:30 pm on 17 May 2018

An agency for Whānau Ora feels "snubbed" after the government's Budget 2018 did not include any extra funding for the health and social service provider.

Peeni Henare

Whānau Ora minister Peeni Henare. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

That follows a promise by the Labour Party last year of an extra $20 million in funding over four years.

Whānau Ora is funded by three commissioning agencies that oversee 80 providers around the country. Its currently being reviewed by an independent panel to see how the model can be grown and improved.

Te Pou Matakana is the North Island Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency and its chair Merepeka Raukawa-Tait said she was disappointed the hard work that had gone into Whānau Ora was not being recognised.

"When you're trying to move Māori families into a position where they can be less vulnerable and help them to identify the areas that they need to work on then you know you need to have the sustainable funding to do that work.

"We're disappointed, we feel we've been snubbed and not sure why, and, yeah, very disappointing because we were promised additional funding last year."

She said Budget 2018 came as a huge surprise for the agency.

"We've been led to believe that we were doing very good work and we know that we are and I've met, on a number of occasions, with the minister for Whānau Ora and he had given us no indication that they weren't happy with the work that we're doing.

"We know that our providers are the ones that get into the homes, we're not government departments, so we can actually get to the people."

Māori MPs had not delivered on their promise to support whānau, she said.

"We have probably the biggest number ever of Māori members of Parliament, some of them are Cabinet ministers, so why haven't they pulled out all stops particularly in the first budget to recognise the support that Māori put in behind them?

"Every one of those Māori members of Parliament knows what Māori have been experiencing for many years - 33 percent of Māori children live in poverty, and my expectation, and indeed Māori expectation is that [the government] would pick it up and run with it in terms of providing additional support for Māori.

"This will not go unnoticed by Māori in the community."

'A kick in the guts'

Māori Party president Che Wilson said the party was concerned the government was mainstreaming Māori issues.

"There is no new money for Whānau Ora in today's budget. That goes against the promise that Labour made to voters last year to put $20 million into Whānau Ora over four years.

"That's an issue of integrity. That's a policy that Labour itself put up - they are the majority party in government so there's really no excuse. It's also a bit of a kick in the guts."

"Whānau Ora is all about putting control over the social and cultural transformation of Whānau back into the hands of communities. This budget has taken that away, and put control back into the hands of government."

Whānau Ora was launched in 2010 to improve the delivery of social and health services and was led by former Māori Party leader Dame Tariana Turia.

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