Budget 2018 an 'epic fail' for Māori - Bridges

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

The leader of the opposition Simon Bridges says halving the Māori development fund may leave Māori wondering whether their needs are being met by the 13 Māori MPs in the Labour Party.

Kelvin Davis called the last budget allocations for Māori crumbs- this year it's been halved.

"I think in terms of specific Māori issues, around Whānau Ora, around voting Māori, around treaty settlements it's been an epic fail," says Bridges.

The son of Maniapoto says there's a lack of government focus on Māori issues. 

"We may not have got the votes from Māori in terms of the Māori seats but we did put the attention in and try to do the right things," says Bridges.

"I acknowledge that there is support here in this budget for the vulnerable and that's a good thing.  I think for the middle- and that includes Māori, Pākehā and all New Zealanders- there's not much in here apart from more cost," says Bridges.

Labour Party representatives, including Davis and Finance Minister Grant Robertson, argue that while Māori-specific funding has halved, there is plenty in Budget 2018 which will be of huge benefit to Māori, including investments in health and education. 

Bridges says he will be putting a focus on social investment that will benefit Māori.