What do Māori get from the Budget? Not as much as last year, sorry, but $825m more than the rest of us

The question posed in a Te Karere TVNZ headline – Budget 2023: How much was given to Māori? – was partly answered on the same day by a OneNews headline – Budget delivers hundreds of millions for Māori.

The New Zealand Herald put a more precise figure on it: Budget 2023 breakdown: Māori initiatives get $825m, Te Matatini kapa haka festival receives massive boost.

Nevertheless, Newshub reported the Māori Party was miffed that Māori had been short-changed: ‘Should have done better’: Te Pāti Māori Co-leader reacts to Budget 2023.

RNZ (without a question mark) headlined a report:  Budget 2023: What’s in it for Māori.

The article was providing an answer rather than asking a question.

An obvious part of the answer is that Māori will share the same benefits that are appropriated for public services for everyone.

But on top of that – as the NZ Herald headline above attests – there’s $825 million of Māori-targeted spending.

This is not as much as was appropriated last year, as Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson acknowledged:  Continue reading “What do Māori get from the Budget? Not as much as last year, sorry, but $825m more than the rest of us”

Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup:  Labour’s reorientation to working class Māori

* Dr Bryce Edwards writes-

In recent decades the Labour Party has lost its traditional connection with working-class voters, becoming more of a middle-class party of liberalism.
This is especially true of Labour’s historic connection with working-class Māori. This is a constituency that the party used to monopolise. But ever since the days of Rogernomics, the Māori working-class base of the party started to lose faith in Labour.
Politicians like Matiu Rata and Sandra Lee split and shifted to alternative political vehicles like Mana Motuhake and the Alliance. Then New Zealand First won all the Māori electorate seats in 1996. And, after Labour regained these seats, the newly formed Māori Party won most of them off Labour in 2008.
This means that for the last few decades Labour hasn’t been able to count on the Māori vote, and it has also had to come to grips with a Māori electorate that is far from a monolith, with the same political preferences. A growing Māori middle class and iwi elite have very different aspirations and policy preferences to working-class Māori.
The “bread-and-butter” concerns of working-class Māori
Within Māoridom there is a tension between the desire to focus on working-class “bread-and-butter” issues like inequality, poverty, education, healthcare and housing, and a more culturalist approach focused on the Treaty of Waitangi and bicultural constitutional arrangements.
The Labour Party is most successful with the Māori electorate when it orientates towards the working-class concerns of Māori voters. The party’s historic belief in universalism and left-wing policies to lift up those at the bottom of the pile regardless of race resonates with their traditional working-class Māori base.
For example, the last public polling of Māori, undertaken by Horizon Research for The Hui early last year, showed most Māori voters have very similar views to non-Māori voters in wanting the government to deliver the basics – especially an improved standard of living.
When asked which issues will most influence their voting choice at the 2023 election, 72 per cent of Māori respondents chose “Cost of living”, followed by housing, health, Covid, poverty, economy, employment, education, and environment. Only 32 per cent chose “Tiriti o Waitangi Settlements” as influencing their vote.
Notably, the same poll showed that support for Labour had plummeted amongst Māori. 54 per cent said that they had voted Labour in 2020, but only 37 per cent said they intended to choose Labour in 2023.
What changed for Māori voters since the Labour Government was elected in 2017 and then re-elected for a second term in 2020?
The most obvious shift has been a change of orientation away from working-class Māori concerns towards more middle-class or elite Māori policies after 2020.
Labour does best when it orientates to working-class Māori and universalism
Willie Jackson ran Labour’s 2017 campaign and he was determined that Labour’s messaging to Māori voters was not going to be about culture and symbolism and the Treaty, but “bread-and-butter” issues like improving health, education, employment and poverty. Labour swept to victory in all seven Māori seats, which helped them win the Beehive.
Projecting a traditional left-wing orientation to Māori voters worked. At the first Waitangi Day after forming the new Government, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a speech in which she signalled that her Government was departing from the traditional culturalist and race-based approach to dealing with Māori deprivation and economic inequality.
Ardern stated that the new Government would take a universalistic approach to inequality – targeting everyone at the bottom, rather than specifically targeting Māori. She strongly emphasised the need to deal with the long list of social ills that have a disproportionate impact on Māori, but signalled that race-based methods were not the best way forward.
The prime minister explained that –

“We are specifically targeting things like poverty. An actual by-product of that is it will positively impact Māori.”

Similarly, Finance Minister Grant Robertson refuted that Labour would take an approach of “targeting Māori” and instead said that “Our focus is on reducing inequality overall”, and stressed that the focus would be on programmes that were universal rather than race-based.
Essentially, this new approach under Labour meant directing resources and solutions to poor Māori “because they are poor” rather than “because they are Māori”.
Labour’s deviation from delivering universalism
In the second term of the Ardern-Robertson government, Labour moved away from this approach and towards one that has been characterised as being about “co-governance” and fulfilling the needs of the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights, which also led to the He Puapua report developed for Labour on constitutional reform. Other reforms had a radical bicultural element to them, such as the new Māori Health Authority.
The key part of this co-governance approach has been the Three Waters reforms, designed by former Local Government minister Nanaia Mahuta. In this, the newly amalgamated water corporates would be 50 per cent controlled by iwi.
Arguably, this shift towards co-governance and culturalist politics is one that is geared more towards Māori elites than working class Māori. Mahuta has been a key figure in shifting Labour back towards iwi politics, and with it the more elite concerns of sovereignty and culture.
A return to Māori working-class politics?
With the changing of the guard from Ardern to new leader Chris Hipkins, Labour and the Government are trying to reset its policy programme and orientation away from unpopular reforms such as water co-governance. Hipkins himself has signalled that he wants his administration to be less woke and more working class.
This means ditching some of the more middle-class liberal reforms such as co-governance. And Mahuta’s demotion has been part of this. She was stripped of her Local Government portfolio last week and pushed down the Cabinet rankings, from her front-bench #8 slot to only #16, essentially giving her the message that her time is over. The public has hardly heard from her since – interestingly, Mahuta was meant to give a speech to foreign diplomats at Waitangi, but cancelled at the last moment without explanation.
This shift also means jettisoning Labour’s recent strong alliance with tribal leaders. This was evident over the weekend at Waitangi, when the PM and ministers met with the elite Iwi Chairs Forum.
According to reporting yesterday from Richard Harman,

“… it is clear that the Hipkins Government will bring the Three Waters legislation back to the debating Chamber to remove the co-governance proposal”.  

The new role of Willie Jackson in re-orientating Labour towards working class Māori
It appears that Hipkins stood up to iwi leaders over the jettisoning of Three Waters co-governance, refusing to countenance their objections. Harman reports:

 “The Government responded with the usually blunt Willie Jackson, now elevated above Mahuta in the Cabinet, who told the chairs they would have to understand they either supported the government as it moved to water down co-governance or, if they didn’t, they would end up enabling National-ACT government.”    

Jackson is now the senior Māori Labour MP – although Kelvin Davis is still deputy leader, this is more as a figurehead position – and will be calling the shots on Labour’s class orientation. He’s made it clear he thinks Labour needs to go back towards working class politics, and away from tribal politics.
Jackson told Newsroom’s Jo Moir that co-governance has “become so tainted”, and he explained that he’s asked iwi leaders “to have a pragmatic look at things”. Moir reports that his message to iwi leaders was to “work with us or you work against us”.
Moir explains that

“Jackson has a long-established track record of calling out iwi leaders for not being representative of all Māori”.

And she reports that he is once again stating that tribal leaders are not so important for Labour’s decision-making. Jackson told her:

“The iwi perspective is one perspective and it’s important, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.”

Furthermore, Jackson says:

“I don’t live my life around whether iwi leaders say yes or no – they don’t represent me in Auckland… We’re represented by urban authorities and people at the coal face, and we don’t live or die on what the iwi leaders say.”   

This is quite a shift in orientation for Labour. Moir explains that Jackson is on board with Hipkins’ shift back towards more working class concerns, including for Māori:

“While Three Waters and co-governance is important, he says it isn’t the driving issue for most Māori. That continues to be ‘bread and butter issues’ like housing, education, health, and the economy.”

As to what will happen with co-governance, Jackson is now emphasising that it doesn’t have to be as radical and significant as it’s become – for example, he says:

“It’s where a Māori voice is required, and it doesn’t have to be a 50/50 representation”.    

A working class focus means less co-governance for Labour
Hipkins himself talked about co-governance over the weekend, but has also started to position it much like the National Party does – as something that is appropriate in certain instances, but not necessary for everything that a government does. Hipkins’ favourite explanation of the merits of co-governance is in line with National leader Christopher Luxon – that it is appropriate for co-management of natural resources.
The tide appears to be turning against the use of parallel bi-cultural institutions and co-governance in the delivery of public services. Another Labour politician leading this charge is David Parker, who pushed back strongly late last year, saying that he had resisted the pressure to include co-governance elements in the new resource management reforms.
The Government’s apparent shift away from co-governance and the concerns of iwi elites is unlikely to cause much strife for Labour. Working class voters – regardless of whether they are Māori or pakeha – are more interested in whether Labour is successfully combating the cost-of-living crisis and delivering decent housing, education and healthcare.
It was interesting that during the Waitangi weekend there were no apparent protests against Labour’s looming cancellation or watering down of Three Waters co-governance.
Notably, however, there was one major Māori protest at Waitangi. It wasn’t about sovereignty, te Tiriti, or constitutional reform, but instead about the cost-of-living crisis. This is clearly where Labour will need to focus if it wants to win back working-class Māori support.


Dr Bryce Edwards is a politics lecturer at Victoria University and director of Critical Politics, a project focused on researching New Zealand politics and society. This article was first published HERE.




CHRIS TROTTER: Willie Jackson’s New Network Will Go Fishing For a New Audience

Train Wreck: Perhaps the easiest way to describe what Willie Jackson’s new public broadcaster will be like, is to set out clearly what it will not be like. It will not be fair. It will not be balanced. It will not perceive itself as a platform upon which all New Zealanders, espousing all manner of ideas and opinions, will be made to feel welcome. CHRIS TROTTER writes – 
WHY CAN’T WILLIE JACKSON make a case for the merger of Radio NZ and TVNZ?

Last Sunday, on the Q+A current affairs show, he told his host, Jack Tame, that he wanted an “entity” to match Britain’s BBC and Australia’s ABC. Great! Were New Zealanders to be treated to a new public broadcaster modelled on the BBC and the ABC, the country would forever be in the Minister of Broadcasting’s debt.

Unfortunately, Jackson was just blowing smoke. The entity he is in the process of creating will not be the least bit like the BBC or ABC. So unlike them will it be, in fact, that it is actually safer for the Minister to give New Zealanders as few details as possible. Hence his unwillingness to make the case.

So, what will this “entity”: this Frankenstein broadcaster, cobbled together from the dead bodies of New Zealanders’ existing public radio and television networks; actually be like?

Perhaps the easiest way to describe what Jackson’s new public broadcaster will be like, is to set out clearly what it will not be like.
Continue reading “CHRIS TROTTER: Willie Jackson’s New Network Will Go Fishing For a New Audience”

BRYCE EDWARDS’ Political Roundup: Labour was meant to save public broadcasting, not weaken it

  • BRYCE EDWARDS writes –

 The Labour Party used to advocate for a properly-funded, multi-platform public broadcaster. There was real merit in the proposal to set this up when Labour campaigned for it in 2017. After all, New Zealand lacks a public broadcaster along the lines of the BBC or the ABC. And the idea of merging RNZ and TVNZ meant that synergies, together with proper funding, could finally produce a broadcaster that would enhance democracy and New Zealand society. The idea had hints of transformation about it.
The plan was also to update public media for the 21st century in which the future is clearly digital. Public media needed to be online and less reliant on TV and radio. By future-proofing the public broadcasters, setting up new digital offerings that would coexist with the mega tech companies, public media operating in the public interest could survive and prosper.
But that was in 2017. Once in government, Labour delegated the job respectively to ministers Clare Curran, Kris Faafoi, and now Willie Jackson. They have all failed miserably, and what we are about to see launch seems something more of a Frankenstein version of a public broadcaster, and much worse than the existing services. Continue reading “BRYCE EDWARDS’ Political Roundup: Labour was meant to save public broadcasting, not weaken it”

Ardern government takes a dive, but Jackson’s acrobatics  are even more spectacular

The  Ardern Government  has  taken a hammering  in recent days.

The weird aspect is that it has largely done the damage to itself, with the Opposition left only to rub salt into the ugly wounds.

Pollsters have been on hand to measure the extent of the harm done.

First out this week was the  OneNews Kantar, which put Labour at 33%, behind National on 38%.

Then came Roy Morgan with Labour on 25.5% and  National on 38%.

The Hamilton West  byelection is  to  round  things off  on Saturday. Continue reading “Ardern government takes a dive, but Jackson’s acrobatics  are even more spectacular”

Graham Adams: Did Pakeha really crush traditional Maori medicine?


Jacinda Ardern claimed in Parliament in 2021 that her government was driving “foundational change”. As Exhibits A and B for this project — which would allegedly “make a long-term difference to how we see ourselves” — she cited the Matariki public holiday and the new compulsory school history curriculum that focuses largely on the Māori experience of colonisation.

The curriculum will be introduced to schools from next year but there is a much more pressing need for compulsory history lessons to begin immediately for our politicians, journalists and health leaders. After all, schoolchildren usually don’t get the chance to write columns in newspapers or take part in television programmes that — wittingly or unwittingly — mislead thousands of their compatriots.

Last Friday, an article by Rawiri Waititi appeared in the New Zealand Herald to mark Māori Language Week. It included:

“Part of colonisation and imperialism is to assert the dominance of the colonial culture and language. Colonisation meant that the whole system of Māori self-belief had to be attacked and derided. The Tohunga Suppression Act of 1907 is merely one example of our spiritual leadership being outlawed.”

Continue reading “Graham Adams: Did Pakeha really crush traditional Maori medicine?”

Genetic strength, insults against Māori MPs (on one side of the House) and an analysis of the critical doctrinal divide

The Māori Party, without any apparent blush, makes a provocative claim about the genetic superiority of Māori on its website.

The claim is to be found in a section which sets out the party’s sports policy:

 “It is a known fact that Māori genetic makeup is stronger than others.”

This genetic strength perhaps attenuates when Māori join the ACT or National Parties and express opinions that challenge the Government line on what must be done in partnership with Maori because of obligations supposedly demanded by the Treaty of Waitangi.

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson earlier this year said ACT leader David Seymour, of Ngāpuhi descent, claimed to be Māori – but “he’s just a useless Māori, that’s all”.

“Absolutely [he’s] Māori but maybe just the most useless advocate for Māori we’ve ever seen.”

He subsequently told Morning Report he did not regret his comment because Seymour was a “dangerous politician” whose views must be challenged. Continue reading “Genetic strength, insults against Māori MPs (on one side of the House) and an analysis of the critical doctrinal divide”

Ngai Tahu are given governance privileges in Canterbury and Willie Jackson gives us a rundown on “the new democracy”

Concerns about the constitutional implications of the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill were overwhelmed by a tsunami of Labour hubris and ballyhoo in Parliament yesterday.  The weight of numbers against upholding liberal democratic values  in the governance of our local authorities resulted in the Bill being supported by 77 votes (Labour 65; Green Party 10;  Māori Party 2) to 43 (National 33; ACT 10).

And so – because a highly contentious interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi has been deemed to over-ride the notion that all citizens should have equal rights – one group of people in Canterbury will be spared the need to campaign for electoral support and can simply appoint representatives to two permanent seats on the Canterbury Regional Council.

As National’s Paul Goldsmith explained during the debate, the legislation allows for 14 councillors in Canterbury to be elected by everyone in the community, including Māori.  And then, after those 14 councillors are elected, Ngāi Tahu will appoint two more.

“So, this is not a question of Māori wards in Canterbury, proportional to the population and democratically elected. It is about the appointments of two councillors on top of what has been a one person, one vote election.” Continue reading “Ngai Tahu are given governance privileges in Canterbury and Willie Jackson gives us a rundown on “the new democracy””

Maoridom went first in shaping a response to the UNDRIP/He Puapua challenge – and now Willie Jackson has a problem

On his Bowalley Road blog today, Political commentator CHRIS TROTTER says Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson’s problem is that he can neither withdraw, nor water down, the Draft Plan for implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without exposing the Labour Government to the most withering political fire from Maori.

His Pakeha colleagues face the same problem, but in reverse.  If the Labour Cabinet signs up to UNDRIP/He Puapua, then it can kiss the 2023 election good-bye.


WILLIE JACKSON HAS A PROBLEM – a big problem. Since 2017, he has led the charge to secure more resources for Māori and, by winning them, has assumed a pivotal political role in the quest for Tino Rangatiratanga. With Jackson’s successes, however, have come heightened expectations of more. Just how high Māori hopes have grown is manifested in the contents of the Draft Plan for implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) So alarming are the recommendations contained in this document, that the Māori Development Minister is refusing to present it to Cabinet.

Jackson’s refusal is highly significant. If the plan has a promoter of Māori economic and social development as stalwart as Jackson shaking his head, then the Draft Plan must be effectively indistinguishable from the He Puapua Report.

Therein lies Jackson’s problem. The moment the He Puapua Report entered the public arena it was too late to order it shredded. It had become a ticking political time-bomb that could only be defused with the co-operation of all sides of the Māori sovereignty debate. It’s only saving grace was that it was not – yet – an official government document. This was a godsend for Jackson and the Labour Government. They had been given a few crucial months to do whatever was needed to prevent a potentially fatal political explosion.

Continue reading “Maoridom went first in shaping a response to the UNDRIP/He Puapua challenge – and now Willie Jackson has a problem”

Willie Jackson ridiculed Shane Reti on Maori longevity gains – but guess whose numbers were right (and show great progress)?

If  Dr Shane Reti happened to insist the world is not flat, would RNZ see much merit in reporting  he had come under fire from flat earthers?

We ask because a recent RNZ report was headed Shane Reti stands firm in face of criticism of Māori health comments

Oh dear.  What did he say?

The opening paragraphs inform us:

National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti is under fire for comments he made comparing Māori life expectancy to the 1840s.

It follows his appearance on The Hui where he said the life expectancy for Māori was 30 years in the 1840s but today it is around 73.4 years.

Was Reti really obliged to defend himself, saying he was trying to argue how the life span of Māori has increased over time? Continue reading “Willie Jackson ridiculed Shane Reti on Maori longevity gains – but guess whose numbers were right (and show great progress)?”