Labour could face backlash from Māori voters

A community leader is warning Labour faces a backlash from Māori voters after cutting targeted funding in this year's Budget.

Labour says its wider policies will benefit Māori, and accused the previous Government of making promises they didn't keep.

Rotorua is a main centre of the Waiariki electorate - the electorate that delivered Labour a clean sweep of the Māori seats and killed the Māori Party in Parliament

Charles Hayward gave Labour his vote, but he won't be doing it again. For him, it was a case of over-promising and under-delivering.

"With not enough funding for the Māori people out there, I think there's other options that would be a lot better for us."

Māori community Leader Lance Norman says there's a risk of a wider backlash against Labour.

"There's a potential that if you're a Māori voter and you voted for Labour and you hadn't got the policy you thought you were going to get, you might revisit that."

For the past five years, the amount the Government spent on Māori development grew slowly but steadily, from $255 million in 2014 to $328 million in last year's budget.

But this year, it was cut down to $312 million.

The Government argues its policies, like the families package, will benefit Māori too - of which Marama Fox isn't convinced.

"Universality does not work, has not worked. It will have some benefits, but it would be greatly increased if it was targeted in the right direction."

Finance Minister Grant Robertson told Newshub Nation that the funding cuts were the previous government's "ghost policies" - funding that never came to fruition.

Ms Fox wasn't happy with that stance.

"I'm so offended by that statement, because we fought tooth-and-nail with the National Government for Budget spend in the area of Māori development and we had two MPs. The Labour Party has 13 MPs."

Mr Robertson's office told Newshub one of the "ghost policies" was the Māori Land Service. On Monday, the Government trumpeted $7 million in funding for a very similar service.

Another so-called ghost policy was the 'Passport to Life' which helps teens in need get things like driver's licences and bank accounts. Again, Labour launched a policy that was called exactly the same thing.

"If they're not going to stand up and demand more funding for Māori specific programmes that we know work to support our whanau, then vacate the seat," Ms Fox says.