While there are strong steps forward in funding for initiatives that will benefit our whānau, Māori must have a seat at the table if we are going to achieve better outcomes for our people.
We believe the key to betterment of wellbeing for our own whānau and hapū lies in Māori exercising our own rangatiratanga and working in equal partnership with the Crown.
Enduring partnerships are built upon mutual trust and confidence and rangatiratanga is no exception.
Many of us have at front of mind the ballooning costs of living and inflation and we need to see brave, strong economic policy that can empower us to steer the waka through these difficult times.
We need the right investment into our economy and infrastructure to soften the blows from the Covid-19 pandemic and to keep up with our rapidly changing world.
In this Budget, I see some good starting points but there are also many policies that need more clarity and depth of detail.
It is pleasing to see the foundations being laid to support Māori economic development through Te Ringa Hāpai Whenua Infrastructure Fund, which will enable owners to undertake economic and other projects on their whenua.
The Progressive Procurement Project will help to build capability for Māori businesses to participate in public sector procurement processes.
The Industry Transformation Plans are a good start to addressing wider issues in the construction, manufacturing, agriculture, primary industries, and digital technologies industries. But it remains to be seen how this funding will bring real tangible benefits to the community.
I am glad to see $230 million in funding to extend the Apprenticeship Boost scheme as well as separate money set aside for Māori Trades and Training Funding, which will be a real positive for our rangatahi looking to strengthen their position in the workforce.
Māori have been disadvantaged by the rising cost of housing, transport and the lack of economic security.
When we leave people behind, our tamariki suffer the most. We all have a duty of care for our tamariki and every single one must have their basic needs met if we want them to thrive.
The country is tracking in the right direction on this, with more than 66,500 children lifted out of poverty by this Government – but we cannot stop the important mahi around this until all tamariki have the best start in life.
We need more clarity on the Warmer Kiwi Homes Programme but at first glance, I welcome its extension. I have hopes the Homelessness Action Plan can deliver solutions for Māori and empower local communities to achieve wellbeing outcomes.
Our whānau will also see some relief through the cost of living payment announced this week as well as the extension of the half-price public transport subsidy.
The $1 billion for social housing will help to relieve the waitlists there.
I am pleased the funding for Māori Health Services is continuing to increase year on year, but the amount is just a drop in the bucket at a time when a global pandemic has shone a bright light on the many inequities facing Māori.
We have a great deal more mahi to do in order to bring Māori up to an even playing field.
It is encouraging to see more funding for te reo Māori immersion, which will mean Ngāi Tahu whānau will have more choices and access to kura.
The overhaul of the antiquated decile system will also mean more equity for our tamariki.
The establishment of a Ministry for Disabled People as well as extra funding for Disabled Services is important and I'm glad to see it. I hope the ministry can deliver for those who need it most.
I tentatively welcome new policies to reduce energy use like incentivising switching to cleaner cars, low-emitting travel modes and improving the energy efficiency of newbuilds. But there must be enough financial support wrapped around these so nobody is left behind.
If handled correctly, it is expected there will be strong benefits for both the environment and our wallets - with more efficient technology our whānau can reduce their day-to-day living costs.
Across the Ngāi Tahu Group we embrace the thrust into sustainable outcomes, and we have built these changes into our targets already. We want our tamariki and our mokopuna to look at their communities, their economy and their climate and be proud of what their tīpuna have handed down to them.
This Budget, while it falls short in places, does build on the positives of last year's Budget and I feel we are on the right track, though at this pace it will be a long road.
Arihia Bennett is Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Chief Executive Officer.