Budget 2021: Housing spend big win for Labour's Māori caucus after crossfire

After weeks of tense political crossfire over targeted Māori initiatives and race relations rows, more than $1 billion is going out the door for Māori.

A big focus of the spending will be on housing - a huge win for the Māori caucus after being left out of last month's housing crisis package.

One man Newshub spoke to, who didn't wish to be identified, is now in his third emergency housing hotel since December. 

"I noticed the longer I stayed, the more I wanted to get out of here," he said.

At one point, he and his three kids shared a queen bed.

"It's been very hard, the things that I have to go through."

He's not alone - Māori are five times more likely to be homeless than Pakeha.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says it's the Government's responsibility to "address this inequity and today makes an important start in that". 

To do that, the Government has opened the financial floodgates for Māori with more than $1 billion out the door. 

About a third of that is for housing, with $380 million going to delivering about 1000 homes and repairing 700 Māori-owned homes. There's also $30 million from that kitty which will go to housing projects and support services. 

They're also ring-fencing $350 million from the Housing Acceleration Fund for whanau Māori.

All up that's expected to deliver at least 2,700 houses.

"I think this is a good start in terms of progressing the housing crisis that we're currently in," says Ali Hamlin-Paenga, deputy chair at Te Matapihi, National Māori Housing.

Māori housing was the glaring omission from last month's housing package. The effect of that announcement? The exponential house price growth we've seen across the country is over.

Treasury is predicting house price increases will peak at 17 percent in June before plummeting to about 1 percent over the next year. Then the gains will completely flatline.

"With the changes that we've made that's exactly what we'd hope to see," says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

But ACT's David Seymour says the Government's housing policy "was a tax policy disguised as a housing policy and that's why it's had no impact on prices". 

We've also finally got a price for the Māori Health Authority. About $98 million goes towards setting it up and another $144.6 million will go to Hauora Māori and to support Māori partnership boards. In total there's just shy of a quarter of a billion dollars for Māori health.

"Never before have we got the type of money that we've announced today," says Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson.

But there was a limit to the Finance Minister's generosity.

"I am also perplexed why there was no additional funding for Whanau Ora," says the Māori Party's Rawiri Waititi.

Robertson says: "All ministers asked for more than they get other than Minister Hipkins for vaccines". 

Lady Tureiti Moxon hopes this is just the beginning. 

"I think that's certainly on the right track. I think they are trying to realise Te Tiriti o Waitangi and that partnership."

This budget is a win for Māori, an absolute must-do by Labour's largest-ever Māori caucus

And after weeks of tense race relation rows led by Judith Collins on this package, not a peep.

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