Budget 2020: Almost $1 billion invested in protecting Māori in wake of COVID-19 pandemic

The Government's Budget for 2020 has promised to improve outcomes for Māori in response to COVID-19 with close to $1 billion invested in support across multiple sectors.

On Thursday, the Government announced the cash will about working with Māori to "restart and repair" communities.

Employment Minister Willie Jackson says it's a "significant and much needed" investment.

"We have heard from iwi and Māori that they wanted to work with the Government to grow employment opportunities in the regions," he said. "We have listened and today [Thursday] have announced the establishment of a $50 million Māori trades training fund, which is part of a wider Māori employment package of more than $200 million." 

As well as employment opportunities, Māori health and wellbeing has been highlighted as a priority for the Government. 

At the beginning of the alert level 4 the Government granted an extra $19 million to Whānau Ora to provide care packages and support to Māori amid the lockdown. 

Now, the Government has announced an extra $136 million so Whānau Ora can continue to deliver support to the families and communities who need it most.

"This funding will be made available for different purposes across the current and next two financial years," said Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare. 

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta said while iwi organisations and non-Governmental organisations have done an "outstanding" job helping whānau through COVID-19, there is more work to be done.

"That is why we have announced an extra $11 million specifically targeted at these groups so they are able to do more for our vulnerable whānau," she said.

Māori language and education will also be boosted with an extra $200 million to fund Te Kohanga Reo. Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis said securing te reo is crucial as the country recovers from COVID-19.

"Kōhanga Reo always have and always will play an important part in securing our future as Maori," he said.

"For too long they have not been acknowledged for the import role they play in educating our tamariki, in the revitalisation of our language and in improving the wellbeing of Whānau."

Davis said the massive cash boost has huge potential.

"COVID-19 has taught us that when the Government and Māori work together, putting our people at the centre of everything we do, we can achieve great things together," he said. 

"Today's $900 million investment shows our commitment to working together, our commitment to helping out Whānau and our commitment to protecting the future for all Maori."