Māori leaders don't think Jacinda Ardern has followed through on promises in 2018 Waitangi Day speech

In a historic Waitangi Day speech, the Prime Minister on Sunday talked up what her Government has achieved for Māori - making Matariki a national public holiday, adding New Zealand history to our school curriculums and establishing the Māori Health Authority.

But we wanted to look back at the commitments she made in her first year at Waitangi to see how they held up.

On February 5, 2018, the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stood on the upper marae at Waitangi, and talked about inequality.

"If you ask me the distance between this whare and the old homestead is the difference between us as people, the inequality we still have. The distance between here and here is unemployment, is rangatahi who don’t have hope for their future, it’s the poverty that exists amongst whānau," Ardern said.

"It’s the fact that not everyone has a decent home, a decent place to live. And it’s the incarceration of the Māori people disproportionately to everyone else."

She asked to be held to account.

"When we return, in one year, in three years, I ask you to ask of us what we have done."

So today we are asking: have they kept their promises?

"There's absolutely no doubt as to the authenticity of that speech. [But] has she managed to deliver? Sadly, no," Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says.

In July 2018, the Government launched a $5.5 billion dollar families package.

Child poverty has improved since then, but for Māori and Pasifika kids, it’s still a pretty bleak picture. 

"Poverty in our community looks like not knowing if you're going to be able to have food on the table," early childhood education centre manager Emma-Jane Jones says.

Nearly one in five tamariki Māori are living in poverty - and those numbers come from before COVID hit. 

"No, poverty for Māori whānau had not improved, and now with COVID it’s just highlighted the problem so much more," Jones says.

As for the number of Māori in prison?

"The prison population has fallen from a disgusting 10,000 to just a revolting 7000, but the fundamental issues with incarceration have not been solved," People Against Prisons Aotearoa advocate Emilie Rākete says.

"If you look at who’s going to prison, the racist disproporitonality in who’s being sent, that’s actually higher now than when Labour came into power."

In 2018, about half as many Māori owned their own homes compared to Europeans. Since then, things have only got harder. 

"The reality is they've got people living in garages, in vans converted to sleep-outs, in order to bring everybody together to afford the excessive rents," Ngarewa-Packer says.

"That’s the most significant treaty breach, is that tāngata whenua are homeless on their own whenua."

So as we celebrate Waitangi Day today, can tāngata whenua celebrate how much the Government has done in the last four years?

"Imagine we attack the pandemic of poverty as much as we attacked the COVID pandemic. If we had highlights every day on the news saying 30,000 Māori children are living in poverty," Jones said. 

"What would our country be able to do, what would we be able to achieve?"

"I think it’s really important that in order to give a speech of that magnitude to your nation on whenua as she did in Waitangi that you also talk about what you're going to do in your moment of leadership to be a better performing Te Tiriti partner," Ngarewa-Packer says

"Have we seen a bold Māori strategy, a bold kaitiaki, a bold strategy to address some of the Treaty breaches from this Prime Minister? Not really. Not really."