As the Government Budget is picked through by the media there is one thing that always seems to be forgotten: outcomes.

Politicians can chuck money left, right, and centre but throwing money at something doesn't guarantee it will perform better or help more people. Announcing funding says absolutely nothing about the quality of the spend and what the outcomes will be.

This was evident when Labour's Maori caucus took to the stage to boast about what they are proud to have delivered for Maori in this Budget. Watch Labour's Maori Caucus discuss the Budget here.

As a side note, if you are not fluent in te reo Maori there will be considerable sections of the media presentation we linked above that you will not be able to understand. It is a shame most New Zealanders won't be able to analyse what the politicians are saying. On that subject, did you know English is not actually an official language of New Zealand? It makes this kind of use of Maori without translation difficult to challenge. While you're here, why not sign our petition demanding that English is made an official language?

There is one section of Labour's Maori Caucus speech that I want to highlight because it is quite an extraordinary admission. I took a few minutes to replay the statement to make sure I was hearing it right! The statement came from Minister of Maori Development Willie Jackson:

“Maori are sort of running two strategies here, we’ve got the by-Maori-for-Maori one but let's not forget that most Maori are not attached to a lot of our Maori organisations there’s going to be huge benefits right across the spectrum. So we’re talking just under $900 million in terms of targeted funding but in terms of Maori receiving benefits they are going to be huge right across the spectrum, we’re proud to deliver this targeted budget in these hard times.”

Look, correct me if I'm wrong, but to me, that sounds a lot like the Minister for Maori Development acknowledging that all of his targeted funds and programmes don't actually reach MOST Maori!

“Most Maori are not attached to a lot of our Maori organisations.”

Again, the Minister is recognising that this special targeted funding is not needed as MOST Maori are not attached to the organisations that are receiving race-based funding. He is explicitly agreeing with some of the points we have been making for a long time - that race-based initiatives aren't effective and that they basically allow one race the opportunity to double-dip into the system. 

He is confirming that in a system that allocates support to those who are in need and vulnerable, there is absolutely no need to differentiate funding on the basis of race.

Minister Nanaia Mahuta re-enforced Jackson's comments when she said:

“The response isn’t binary, it's not either targeted funding for Maori or universal, it's both.”

She clarified how she viewed New Zealanders as two groups, Maori, "Pakeha" and everyone else, rather than a hugely diverse population who call New Zealand home. Mahuta stated:

“We are mindful of cost of living pressures affect every whanau across the country no matter whether they're Maori, Pakeha or otherwise.”

Charming. Did you tick "otherwise" as your ethnicity on the recent Census?

The language that was used to describe Maori as "our whanau" or "our people" is interesting as it gives the impression that Labour's Maori Caucus are ONLY working for Maori. They sit in New Zealand's Parliament and while they may feel an affinity with those who share their race and may even represent a Maori electorate, they are there to serve all New Zealanders - "Maori, Pakeha, or otherwise" as Nanaia Mahuta would say!

At a time when so many families are struggling to put food on the table, petrol in the car, and heat their homes, the Labour Maori Caucus thumbs its nose at their hardship by advocating and celebrating a Government-sanctioned form of preferential race-based treatment.

Despite boasting, the Maori ministers were also apologetic about the meagre $825million they secured for Maori in the Budget when last year they got $1billion.

The $825million was largely 'top-up' funding for the usual big ticket items:

  • $200million in additional funding to build and repair more homes through the Whai Kāinga Whai Oranga. WKWO was previously allocated a four year budget of $730million to “speed up the delivery of Maori-led housing”.
  • $34million over two years for the Te Matatini kapa haka festival. This has been claimed as a victory by the Maori Party and noted as meeting the targeted equivalency with the NZ Symphony Orchestra.
  • $18million over four years for Labour’s new public holiday Matariki. This appears to be for promoting and educating about the holiday.
  • $168.1million additional funding over four years for Whānau Ora. Under the Ministry of Maori Development, Whānau Ora uses a kaupapa Māori approach to improve the wellbeing of whānau as a group, addressing individual needs within the context of whānau or families and their culture. Although claiming to offer services to all people there is no evidence that this occurs. There is also no evidence of measurable and transparent accountability.
  • $132million increased funding for Hauora providers. It is worth noting that it was only July 2022, less than a year ago, that a separate Maori Health Authority was established with great fanfare. Before this system has even had time to establish itself we have somehow recognised that an additional $132million is needed for Maori philosophy health carers. This must be seen as a slap in the face to those waiting months to access a medical specialist. Remembering again that “MOST Maori” are not attached to these organisations.  
  • $225million for Māori education. As is often the case, statistics demonstrating lagging Maori outcomes are combined with Pasifika students, however the solution presented - in this case this fund - does nothing for Pasifika students who are struggling.
  • $51million over two years for Māori media is another big ticket item that must see the Maori Party president, John Tamihere, rubbing his hands together in glee. Effectively this will be a taxpayer-funded campaign for Tamihere. Not to mention Minister Jackson's own connections to Radio Waatea. 

But inevitably, even this nearly billion dollar lolly scramble is not sufficient for some. The Maori Party labelled the Budget as 'for the rich' and complained that the Maori Budget only represented 0.47% of the total Budget (by their own calculations). It makes me wonder what would be enough for the Maori Party. 

Let's be honest though, the Maori Party are prone to pluck numbers out of the sky and call them facts. We shouldn't be afraid to call them what they are - radicals. Most Maori don't vote for them. They are a fringe party and often spout extremist ideology. Reassuringly, they have announced they could not support any Government budget “until such time as a Tiriti-centric Aotearoa is in full operation”. With any luck that'll keep them on the opposition benches indefinitely.

The Maori Party's scathing contempt for the performance of the Labour Party demonstrates, yet again, that shared Maori ancestry does not guarantee a meeting of the minds or a consensus of opinion. Democratic accountability is the only mechanism where all Maori and all New Zealanders can be respected and assured that our voices are heard. 

If Prime Minster Hipkins was not feeling sufficiently admonished by the Maori Party for recently expressing caution about small parties and their bottom lines, then these latest statements must surely be seen as a reason for Labour to create some distance.

The National Party has ruled out working with the Maori Party, imagine if Labour did too! We could then be assured that extremist, separatist radicals won't get anywhere near the Government benches. We might have to mention it to the Prime Minister.