Labour says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has been caught in "a bare-faced lie" after denying she had cut funding for a 21-year study into Auckland children's development which was commissioned just three years ago by her department.

The "Growing Up In New Zealand" study, which is following the development of 7000 children in Auckland, South Auckland and the Waikato over their first 21 years, was commissioned by MSD in 2008 to provide up-to-date data to aid policy development.

It builds on the famous "longitudinal" study which followed 1037 babies born in Dunedin in the early 70s.

But Professor Iain Martin of the university's Medical and Health Sciences faculty yesterday confirmed the study was facing a serious funding shortfall.


"Just of yesterday I got another request from them for another $5 million of taxpayers' money," Ms Bennett said. She said there was never any ongoing funding allocated to the study in the first place either by her Government or Labour.

But Labour's deputy leader, Annette King, said that was "a bare-faced lie" and provided Budget documents showing Labour had allocated funding for the study in the 2009/2010 and 2010/11 years which was missing from National's Budget documents. "They have doctored the figures in their own Budget by leaving it out."