30 May 2019

Budget 2019 for Māori: Whānau Ora to receive $80m over four years

7:06 pm on 30 May 2019

The biggest win for Māori in the Wellbeing Budget is a boost of $80 million for Whānau Ora over four years.

Peeni Henare, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Minister for Whānau Ora, and Youth.

Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The new money will be spent increasing the Whānau Ora navigators workforce and targeted support for young Māori. The funding will be invested in the country's three Commissioning Agencies, but new local commissioning bodies will also be developed.

The government drew criticism at Budget 18 for not spending new money on Whānau Ora. Instead, it ordered a review of the flagship Māori policy, which found it was working well and should get further investment. It also found the policy lacked buy in from government agencies.

Part of the funding will also be used by Te Puni Kōkiri to foster greater support for Whānau Ora across government.

Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare said increasing support for Whānau Ora will directly impact wellbeing indicators across the board.

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Mr Henare said he felt enormous pressure to deliver for Māori following last year's budget.

"As we travelled around the country we felt the pressure, and dare I say disappointment, of our people that in the last Budget there were expectations," he said.

"But we are more than happy that today we are headed in the right direction where we can make a bigger impact for the aspirations of our whānau, wherever they may be."

He said Whānau Ora was changing people's lives.

"I met a gentlemen who presented to the health sector with significant health issues. It was Whānau Ora, he says, that saved his family," he said.

"It's a very different way of service than just dealing with the gentlemen's health issues. Through Whānau Ora we identified his health issues involved issues within the household like nutrition, warmth, overcrowding. We were able to address those issues at Whānau Ora.

"Those stories are everywhere, we hear them right across the country, and we hope that today goes along way to delivering more of that for our people."

"My vision for Whānau Ora is that it supports whānau to achieve their aspirations, that it is appropriately supported across government agencies, and that whānau are able to play a key role in local decision making regarding Whānau Ora support."

Helen Leahy, the chair of the South Island Whānau Ora commissioning agency, Te Pūtahitanga, said the increase in funding and government backing is great. But she would like to see other agencies, such as health and social development, adopt a whānau centred approach.

"We need to see Minister Nanaia Mahuta really challenging her cabinet colleagues to lift their game and to take seriously that well-being isn't about doing to, for and on behalf of whānau, it's actually inviting whānau to be designing their own answers, their own strategies." she said.

Ms Leahy said it would also have been good to know just how many navigators they were going to get.

An extra $19.8 million dollars will be spent over the next four years on te reo Māori initiatives including the Maihi Karauna, the government's Māori language strategy aiming to have one million people speaking basic te reo Māori by 2040.

Over the next two years, $14m will be spend developing Māori language content for broadcast and multi-media platforms.

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta said everyone needs to do their part to make te reo a working, living language.

"Te reo is a taonga that will strengthen the partnership between Crown and Māori," she said.

"The language also makes a key contribution to New Zealand tourism and international trade."

The government will be kick-starting the Te Kotahitanga education programme, spending $42m over three years. The programme aims to address cultural bias and racism in the education system.

Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis said the programme will support equitable outcomes for Māori students.

"This initiative will boost the capability of the education workforce to better support Māori achievement, and transform the learning experiences of Māori," he said.

Māori leaders have flagged unaffordable housing as a serious issue in their communities. This Budget includes $40m in papakainga developments and rural housing repairs over the next four years. The government has also invested a further $197m to address homelessness, and $238m in transitional housing.

As part of the government's $1.9 billion spending on mental health, a Māori suicide prevention initiative will be developed, as well as eight programmes to strengthen Māori identity and community.

Māori make up 70 percent of children in state care, and 80 percent of those abused in care. As part of $1.1b package to reduce child poverty, a further $25m will be spent on Māori specialist roles within Oranga Tamariki, and strengthening relationships with iwi and Māori organisations. More work will be done to secure whānau placements for tamariki.

Pre-Budget announcements also include $98m on reducing Māori re-offending; $56m in Māori land services and $12m addressing rheumatic fever.

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