NZ First MP Shane Jones says Māori should be "on the rafters hollering with joy" about the Budget rather than questioning why there was little extra funding for Māori development.

There was $37 million for Māori Development in the Budget, including Māori housing, land reforms and funding for employment and training work.

That was only one third of the $100 million a year in 2016 and 2017 secured by the Māori Party's Minister Te Ururoa Flavell under the National Government.

That left Labour's Māori MPs relying on showing how Māori would benefit from more universal measures such as the families package.


Minister Nanaia Mahuta unveiled the first of the Māori Development measures – a $1 million package for Maori wardens to work with unemployed youth – on Friday.

However, there was no extra funding for the Whanau Ora social services delivery programme set up by the Māori Party to work with Māori families, prompting Māori Party co-founder Dame Tariana Turia to accuse Labour of breaking its promise to keep the scheme. That scheme is under review.

The amount for Māori initiatives prompted criticism given the Labour Party now holds all seven Māori seats.

Jones, the Regional Development Minister, said there were wider wins for Māori in the Budget which should not be underestimated.

"I think for the small area I'm responsible for, Māori should actually be on the rafters hollering with joy because significant beneficiaries of any forestry roll-out and successful Provincial Growth Fund outcomes are going to be Māori landowners and Māori communities."

NZ First leader Winston Peters has been an arch critic of Whanau Ora scheme, but Jones said that was not why the scheme got no further funding.

He said NZ First supported a review of Whanau Ora which was underway but had not discussed scrapping the scheme in its Budget-related conversations.

"It's not fair to say there's some deep ideological dismissiveness toward the kaupapa but ever since it was created by Tariana Turia it's been bit like the mist of the Whanganui River.

"You could never really see where it was going or coming and I think the review is a really important step that has to be taken before we substantially start enlarging the largesse of that part of Government's programmes."

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said he was sure there would be further funding for Whanau Ora once the review was done but there was no point investing in it until then.

Robertson defended the low sum for Māori Development, saying the big issues for Māori voters were health, education and incomes.

He pointed to estimates that about $300 million a year that would go to Māori families in the Families Package from July.