It felt like a tohu to see a clear, bold as brass rainbow stretching across to Te Waipounamu as I sat in Wellington Airport waiting to make my way home this morning.
To me, rainbows have always symbolised hope and the morning after the Budget, I think that was appropriate.
Tahua Pūtea 2023 was, as promised, no frills but there are many aspects of it that could support whānau.
As I had my first read-through locked in a room of media, analysts and others at Parliament on Thursday, a couple of things stood out to me.
First was the boost in spending for tāngata whaikaha.
Difficulty accessing services is a recurring theme we hear from many of our tāngata whaikaha whānau across Te Waipounamu. Part of the $863.6m allocated to Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People will go toward developing and delivering future services as well as shoring up existing services.
The hope now is that there is abundant opportunity for tailored whānau-led solutions to take their place at the policy table. Our ongoing mahi with the Whānau Ora Interface Group and a hui with them later in the afternoon, identified potential areas of support for whānau and not just agencies.
There were other general aspects of the Budget I think will be appreciated by whānau: free public transport for tamariki aged under 13, scrapped prescription fees and the 20 hours of free early child education a week to 2-year-olds.
There were other wins for Māori, too: $34m set aside for Te Matatini over two years, (well overdue); $132m in increased funding for hauora providers to provide better access to primary care, data innovations, workforce development and more rongoā services; $200m for Māori housing initiatives, and $225m for Māori education.
Hauora comes in many forms and all of these things are inextricably linked to the overall wellbeing of our people.
In the Whānau Ora space, an additional $168m was allocated to the three commissioning agencies to be stretched over four years. For us, this will mean stability, and some expansion. But importantly, it enables us to strengthen our foundations and support the large network of Whānau Ora partners and whānau entities we work alongside.
The thing that excites me is the opportunity that comes and the ability to innovate. While short on total Māori spending compared with last year’s Budget, I think we can say there are signs of hope.
Ten years ago, inspired by the lemon tree in her garden and the marinated raw fish her late father loved, Reni Wereta-Gargiulo began making raw fish and selling it at local markets in Whakatū. A decade on, Reni (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Rauru, Te Ātiawa) is the owner of Kiwi Kai, a multi-armed business that has won her numerous accolades. including 2022 New Zealand Māori Businesswoman of the Year.
It has been a long road of taking risks and developing new ideas for Reni, but thanks to Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu WAVE funding, she has been able to develop Kiwi Kai Nelson into the successful parent company it is today. Click here to read more.
Our WAVE funding workshops for successful WAVE recipients have started rolling out across the motu. Last week, we kicked off in Whakatū, this week it was Ōtautahi and next week we are looking forward to meeting some new faces in Ōtepoti. It is always an exciting time, for both recipients and staff, as we see the next wave of ideas opportunity come to life.