Wellington gained some wins in Budget 2022, but the city's big transport project is considered an ongoing risk - and the capital also missed out on money for new trains and access to a subsidy council tenants have long been lobbying for.
There's $49 million to build up to 300 homes over the next 10 years for Pacific families in Eastern Porirua.
Arts and culture got a helping hand with $12m for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and $7.5m for the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
There's also $27.9m towards three new buildings in the parliamentary precinct.
300 homes for Pacific families
The Government has funded an initial $49m to build up to 300 homes over the next 10 years for Pacific families in Eastern Porirua.
This money will also go towards establishing and resourcing a new housing entity to deliver better housing outcomes for Pacific peoples in the Wellington region.
Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio said this was part of an overall strategy aimed at lifting wellbeing and aspirations in health, housing, education, business and employment.
"Funding from Budget 2022 for initiatives like housing aligns strongly with the Lalanga Fou goals that aim to provide access to more affordable homes for Pacific peoples, which for our nation is an important indicator of economic wellbeing."
Income Related Rent Subsidy "smoke and mirrors"
Wellington City Council has long been lobbying the Government for something called the Income Related Rent Subsidy (IRRS).
City Housing, the council's social housing arm, is in financial trouble and forecast to be insolvent by June 2023. It has 1927 properties and 3200 tenants.
Gaining access to the IRRS would mean those on low incomes wouldn't pay any more than 25 per cent of their income on rent. It would also turn City Housing's operating deficit into a surplus.
At the moment, the subsidy is only available for new tenants going into Kāinga Ora or Community Housing Provider (CHP) social housing.
The council is considering establishing a CHP for its social housing portfolio as a sort of Plan B if its lobbying for the IRRS is unsuccessful.
The Government has earmarked $9.8m to provide the subsidy if the council follows through on a proposal to set up as a CHP.
This would be for new, eligible tenants, signed for Wellington City Council's properties being transferred to a CHP between July 1, 2023 and June 30, 2025.
Mayor Andy Foster pitched this as "good news for the city", despite the fact the Government's position essentially hasn't changed.
Existing tenants will not have access to the subsidy, with the Government's focus being on providing additional housing.
Councillor Diane Calvert said the announcement was "smoke and mirrors".
The announcement did nothing to help existing tenants gain access to the subsidy, she said.
Calvert said it showed meetings between the mayor, ministers and officials had achieved nothing.
"At the end of the day, regardless of the politics, it's the people on the really low incomes who are going to suffer from this. This is about our tenants and they've essentially been ignored."
Helping hand for arts and culture
Over four years, Budget 2022 allocated $13.9m to Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision for workforce capability and capacity.
The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra got $12m to ensure a sustainable funding model.
The Royal New Zealand Ballet got $7.5m helping to support the return to the St James Theatre in Wellington, which has been closed for earthquake strengthening.
Te Papa Tongarewa received $12m to address critical workforce-cost pressures and for further support against the effects of Covid-19.
There's also $42.9m to rebuild Te Papa's Spirit Collection Area, which houses a significant proportion of New Zealand's unique and globally precious natural history collections.
Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni said the Budget would ensure agencies were able to secure the talent and resources they needed to deliver their core programmes now, as well as being able to look ahead.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has put into sharp focus the value of our cultural sector in building national identity, as well as bringing excitement, joy and comfort into our lives every day.
"On top of that, it's an industry that's a massive driver of economic activity. Our arts, culture and heritage is the soul of Aotearoa New Zealand – it shapes and defines who we are as a nation."
Wellington's big transport plan considered an ongoing risk
Let's Get Wellington Moving (LGWM), the capital's multibillion-dollar transport plan, remains a risk.
Big projects the plan is proposing include a second Mt Victoria tunnel and light rail to Island Bay.
Treasury's Budget Economic and Fiscal Update has again warned the plan is expected to cost significantly more than previously estimated, increasing the risk it may not be delivered in full.
The document reported the Government could be asked to pay more should these additional costs materialise, due to "competing funding priorities of local councils".
When the project was first announced in 2019 it was pitched as a $6.4 billion package.
Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Arcus said this was the second year Treasury had flagged the issue as an ongoing risk.
"While this is unsurprising, you have to ask why this has not been addressed over the past 12 months, given how significant and strategic LGWM is for the Wellington region.
"The chamber has consistently maintained that the LGWM funding split between central and local government is a raw deal for the city, with central government not taking on their fair share of the costs."
The agreement is for central government to pay 60 per cent of the cost and local government to pay 40 per cent.
The plan is a three-way partnership between Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.
Arcus said the parties needed to urgently address these finding concerns to ensure the plan was delivered in full.
Absence of funding for new trains dismays regional council
Greater Wellington Regional Council was unimpressed there was no money in the Budget for a new fleet of hybrid electric trains in the lower North Island.
The trains, which are battery-powered on non-electric track, were proposed by the council and Horizons Regional Council in a business case paid for by Waka Kotahi.
The total cost for 22 four-car trains and associated infrastructure is thought to be $762m.
It was hoped the Government would make a $360minvestment towards the total amount.
Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Daran Ponter and Horizons chairwoman Rachel Keedwell said the Government's decision not to do this was "like the lights being turned off".
"It's especially disappointing for commuters and surprising for our councils. But we're not giving up," Ponter said.
"When enacted, our business case will significantly reduce transport emissions while providing for population growth and the replacement of aged rolling stock."
The business case predicted the trains would quadruple peak-time services between Palmerston North and Wellington on the Manawatū line and double them between Masterton and the capital on the Wairarapa line.
"Given this is a health and climate budget, it's incomprehensible that these trains are not being funded," Keedwell said.
New parliamentary buildings
The Budget included $27.9m towards developing three new buildings in the parliamentary precinct.
These include a new building for MPs and staff on the carpark behind Parliament House, a new secure deliveries building, and the earthquake-prone annex behind the Beehive, which will be rebuilt as a dedicated building for ministers.
Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard said currently ministers, MPs and staff were spread across several buildings in an expensive, inefficient and unsustainable arrangement.
"Most importantly, we need to keep the people who work at and visit Parliament safe.
Our existing precinct has risks to safety and security, and our buildings have
low resilience to natural disasters and Wellington infrastructure failures.
"The new buildings will be base-isolated and constructed using rigorous earthquake safety designs, within a consolidated and secure parliamentary precinct."