Labour leader Jacinda Ardern is pushing back on claims by National that a $100 million Provincial Growth Fund spending announcement today was "verging on corruption".
The claim from National leader Judith Collins was "absolutely not true", Ardern said, noting that when it was in government, National also made spending announcements during the campaign period.
The row between the two leaders comes after Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced $100 million from the PGF would be spent on upgrading hundreds of marae across the country.
This is the last official PGF announcement and essentially means all the $3 billion fund has now been allocated.
Speaking to reporters this morning, Collins said it was "outrageous" the funding had been announced so close to next week's election.
"It's absolutely verging on a corruption of the system – it should not be happening," she said, adding that it was "very dodgy behaviour".
"Just imagine the absolute hysteria that would be greeted if a National government ever tried to do that."
But Ardern pointed out that this was exactly what National has done in the past.
For example, a week out from the 2017 election then-Tourism Minister Paula Bennett announced the first round of a $100m tourism infrastructure fund.
Ardern said the $100m announced today was part of reallocated PGF fund that was diverted into Covid-19 recovery projects which create jobs.
"It is important that we keep the job of the recovery going, in spite of the fact there is also a campaign on."
Jones agreed:"People's jobs continue to suffer [due to] Covid," he told the Herald.
He added that he remained a minister "right up until the point at which the new regime is sworn in".
The $100m allocated through the PGF will pay for the upgrading of 351 marae across the country.
Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta said marae reflect and represent Māori identity, language, mātauranga and whānau wellbeing.
The money is estimated to create 3100 jobs and would "filter into the communities" by creating business through the purchasing of building materials.
The Bay of Plenty gets the most money - almost $30m for 77 marae, which Jones expects will create close to 650 jobs.
Some 53 Waikato marae get almost $14m in upgrade funding, as do 60 marae from Tairāwhiti/East Coast.
Where the money is being spent:
• Bay of Plenty: $29.6m for 77 marae, estimated 648 jobs created.
• Tairāwhiti/East Coast: $14.2m for 59 marae, estimated 394 jobs.
• Waikato: $13.8m for 53 marae, estimated 363 jobs.
• Hawke's Bay: $9.6m for 51 marae, estimated 263 jobs.
• Tai Tokerau/Northland: $9.2m for 34 marae, estimated 388 jobs.
• Taranaki: $7.4m for 23 marae, estimated 305 jobs.
• Manawatū-Whanganui/Horowhenua: $7.1m for 33 marae, estimated 33 jobs.
• Wairarapa/Kapiti: $3.2m for 10 marae, estimated 89 jobs.
• Te Tau Ihu/Top of the South: $760,000 for 4 marae, estimated 38 jobs.
• Southland: $719,000 for 2 marae, estimated 25 jobs.
• West Coast: $250,000 for 2 marae, estimated 20 jobs.
• Chatham Islands: $198,000 for 1 marae, estimated 6 jobs.
• Canterbury: $160,000 for 2 marae, estimated 30 jobs.