I was asked what I thought Māori should expect from Budget 2023 on Thursday.
I was tempted to just say “not much” but thought better of it. There is so much media noise about the Budget that I think it gets out of hand.
It becomes a reality television show, with all the build up snippets and speculation around what will happen - sort of Married At First Sight without the tears.
I’m not going to pretend I understand all the many and various issues that Māori face, nor to pretend that all Māori have the same issues and views. I would be morally and factually wrong on both counts.
But maybe I can shed some light on it all.
The first thing to remember is that nearly everything that the Government will do over the next year will be exactly what they have been doing in the last year.
Even many “new announcements” are simply a continuation of things already in place or at least planned some time ago. The Government has not suddenly turned into a fresh-thinking, agile, pivoting innovator.
I’m not saying there will be no surprises - that is part of the reality show - but they will not deeply change things for Māori, or anyone else.
Mainly the current Government, like those before and after them, is trying to create the impression that it is in control - a “good economic manager”.
We know the story well by now, anything good that happens in the economy is a result of their astute judgement and judicious administration. Anything bad is due to “influences outside of our control” which pretty much means overseas, unless the alternative Government was recently in power, in which case they get the blame.
It is, especially in election year, a “hello voters” exercise.
You might have noticed recently on television presentations to business audiences on what the Budget might contain. Usually there are white table cloths and kai involved.
There will be more in the days after the Budget, hosted by banks, accounting companies and other businesses.
There almost certainly will not be too many on marae or at worker union meetings. That will tell you something about the process. The lords of finance and their interpreters to the masses matter most.
I would also expect various media reports on what selected members of the public might think about the impact on them.
You may recognise a few people like yourself or your whānau in these but they are fleeting glimpses only for “personal colour” and my guess is that the so-called “middle New Zealand” will be most prominent because they seem to be the main concern of the “vote hunters”.
My advice would be not to get too hung up on the financial minutiae or the stories in reaction.
Māori will obviously share a great deal of the general impact and reactions. As you are deeply aware, many whānau of all cultures are really struggling, not to finance their mortgage so much as their landlord’s mortgage; not so much a holiday as a needed doctor visit; not so much a new car as a repair job on the old. You know the story better than me.
Will the Budget shift resources from those with enough, or more than enough, to those with nowhere near enough?
For Māori in the bigger picture, the issue will be whether there is any decisive shift in resources towards “by Māori , for Māori” services.
Whether there are decisive specific actions (not plans or studies) which will strengthen Māori families, hapū and iwi.
A Tiriti-based Budget would have those. I hope this one does.
Everyone else will be responding on the impact on their industry, region or circumstance. You might as well do so too.
Rob Campbell is a professional director and investor. He is Chancellor at AUT, Chair of Ara Ake, Chairman of NZ Rural Land and former chairman of Te Whatu Ora.