Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu welcomes today’s Budget announcement of $168m in spending to strengthen Whānau Ora but cautions it will bring a limited level of stability, rather than any widespread expansion or change.

Pouārahi Ivy Harper says for that to happen, government departments and agencies across the board need to be investing in Whānau Ora.

“Any new funding is, of course, welcome and the investment announced today, which will roll out over four years, is a signal of confidence in the already well-established Whānau Ora Navigator network of partners and entities in communities right across Te Waipounamu.

“But I think rather than look at Whānau Ora investment on its own, it is time for all departments to start engaging in whānau-led approaches.”

There have been consistent concerns about how well public organisations understand and support the approach, as noted in a report by Auditor-General John Ryan earlier this year.

In the report, the Auditor General said “many whānau might not be getting all the support available to address their needs and help them achieve their aspirations” because work in this area by the public sector had been limited to small-scale trials and time-limited initiatives.

Harper said that was not good enough.

“Whānau Ora has been in existence since 2002 with the launch of He Korowai Oranga. There have been countless reviews. In the past week alone, we have seen the release of a number of high-level reports backing the Whānau Ora approach and acknowledging that Māori communities themselves hold the answers. When you weigh up the impacts and the breadth and depth of the Whānau Ora network with the investment, it is clear we still have quite some way to go.

“The extra support delivered today is appreciated and will enable ongoing support for thousands of whānau in the South Island,” said Harper. “However, we do hope to see more of a multi-agency approach to delivering support and investment to enable whānau-led solutions.”

Gena Moses-Te Kani, Co-Chairperson of Te Taumata, the independent iwi board which governs Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, said investment to strengthen the Whānau Ora network would bring a level of stability for whānau Māori across Te Waipounamu.

The $168m would be split among the three Whānau Ora commissioning agencies: Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu in the South Island, the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency in the North Island and Pasifika Futures, which is for Pasifika families nationwide.

“The funding covers four years, so we know we have four years to plan, which is better than one, but we would like to see that further expanded, with a longer timeframe and commitment,” Moses-Te Kani said.

“Whānau Ora here in the south is not about us as the commissioning agency. The focus is on the vast network of Whānau Ora partners and whānau entities spread across every community of the South Island. For them to be able to innovate and respond to what’s happening in their own communities, on their own terms, stability is very important.”

Moses-Te Kani said she was pleased to see the Government commit to finding solutions and creating better lives for tangata whaikaha, with $863m announced to support disabled people and provide better access to services and an end to minimum wage exemptions.

Extra support for whānau in the form of better access to early childhood education, scrapping prescription co-payments and free public transport for under 13 years would also help ease financial pressures at home, Moses-Te Kani said.

Budget 2023 also included a $200m investment in Māori housing via Whai Kāinga Whai Oranga, to support iwi, hapū and Māori organisations develop and supply long-term housing to whānau.




Nicola Coburn

E: nicola@naia.co.nz