The Government's plan to announce the world's first "wellbeing" Budget next year resonates with business people if a big Waikato Inc turnout to hear Finance Minister Grant Robertson is any gauge.

The handful of audience questions for Robertson after his presentation on Budget 2018 in Hamilton concerned early childhood education and health sector funding.

But Robertson was not surprised by the dearth of inquiries about business-sensitive matters like tax or industrial relations reform.

"It's a pattern, even in the election campaign," he told the Herald.


"Business people are people - they're part of their communities and they care about early childhood education and they care about the health system.

"I think that's heartening and it feeds into the idea of a wellbeing Budget."

Robertson told the joint Waikato Chamber of Commerce-Institute of Directors event that Budget 2019 would be based on work Treasury has been doing on "a living standards framework".

The Government would continue to monitor and measure GDP growth, which was a good, long-run measure of economic activity, he said.

"But I don't think that (GDP) represents what New Zealanders think of as success."

Using what's known as "the four capitals", success would be measured through financial capital such as GDP, natural capital, human capital and social capital, Robertson said.

"Natural capital ... the quality of our environment, how clean is our water, how clean is our air? How do we treat our environment.

"Human capital ... how are our people, how educated are they, how healthy are they, how secure do we feel as individuals? Are people more lonely in our society than they used to be?


"Then social capital - how connected are our communities? How strong are they?

"Across these four dimensions we will get a much better picture of our success as a country.

"This is not some light, fluffy happiness index. This is actually based on indicators and measures we can track. At the moment Statistics NZ and the Treasury are putting those together so that we can be held accountable to them."

Robertson said underpinning work would draw Government departments and agencies together in a way never seen before.

"At a national level we haven't sat the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and Sport NZ down together to say let's design a programme that improves the physical and mental wellbeing and the educational success of our kids.

"Because there's nothing more important to your wellbeing than that."