His critics said Maori did not get enough in this week's Budget, but Te Ururoa Flavell has hit back saying he and his party has secured funding of $122 million it did not have a few days ago.
The Maori Party co-leader and Waiariki MP spoke to an audience of more than 250 people in the wharekai at Te Papaiouru Marae at Ohinemutu yesterday detailing Thursday's Budget announcements and what they would mean for Maori across the country.
"Some would say we didn't get enough, and that's probably true, but it's $122m we did not have two days ago, it's $400m we did not have three years ago and it's $2 billion we did not have nine years ago," he said to an audience of invited kaumatua, social service providers, community leaders and Maori business leaders.
He said it was important his party had stuck to its kaupapa and remained "the flea in the ear of the Prime Minister".
"We are still developing the criteria and those looking for funding must work through Te Puni Kokiri."
For example, he said Marae Ora - where $10m of funding, spread over four years, to improve, restore and revitalise the cultural and physical integrity of the marae - was not just about the physical aspects of marae, but also for the development of the human element.
"It's all very well having a nice building, but if there is nobody there to support it, it's a waste of time.
"We are always asking for more money ... budgets will rise and fall over time depending on the circumstances ... and because of the relationship we have with the National Government we are able to secure on average somewhere between $120 and $130m within our own budget, but also we are able to influence other ministries.
"One party cannot lead New Zealand alone, they need some friends, and I hope those friends are brown."
In terms of mental health, Mr Flavell said $8m would be spread over four years boosting the existing fund to build on suicide prevention work as part of the Rangatahi Suicide Fund (Oranga Rangatahi).
Lakes District Health Board Maori health general manager Phyllis Tangitu said she never felt there was enough, "but, I think there's always an opportunity for more developments to occur, but I'm really excited about there being additional funds allocated to that space, as there are some brilliant developments across the country that we can all learn from".
"We really need to work on different initiatives and the good news is there is some money now available for that," she said.
The budget also gave $10m over four years to New Zealand Maori Tourism initiatives, creating new employment opportunities in Maori tourism, and $2m over two years to help grow Maori enterprises and create more jobs in the regions.
Maori in Tourism Rotorua board member Oscar Nathan said any funding was good, especially in terms of developing new networks and initiatives.
"There's two parts to it, the establishing of Maori ventures and the opportunity it creates for Maori in tourism.
"It also sits with Maori trusts to complement the existing funding. They are already now thinking about how to deploy that and what outcomes they would like to achieve to better engage and upskill Maori tourism businesses."
Te Arawa kaumatua Ken Kennedy said it was good to see a focus on youth, the protection of marae for the future and whanau.
"Our people have been fragmented for many years, so it's wonderful to see funding to bring them back together.
"With so many Maori moving to towns and cities to find work and sustain their families we have seen a lot of disruption and pain ... it's about strength and unity and nurturing our tamariki and mokopuna for the future and we need to look after them."
However, Labour Party Waiariki candidate Tamati Coffey, who was not at the hui, said the figure of $122m seemed a lot for kaupapa Maori, "but it's a drop in the bucket".
"It only equates to 1 per cent of total new spending in the 2017 Budget so don't let the Maori Party fool you into thinking that's a great thing for our whanau - it's not.
"It's a sorry reminder that when you don't have the numbers to make a difference, you have to get what the National Party give you - and don't complain," he said.
"The allocated $17m for Maori housing gets you 26 houses at current Auckland median house prices - which isn't going to fix the housing crisis in Tauranga and it's not going to get our homelessness crisis under control in Rotorua either.
"Most of our whanau living in cars won't see any of that money. I'm concerned that we're cheering for these 'gains' prematurely."
Budget benefits for Maori
- Whanau Ora: $10m over four years extending Whanau Ora's reach so 2500 more whanau get access to it.
- Whanau-centred family violence interventions: $9m over four years supporting facilitators to help whanau end violent behaviour.
- Rangatahi Suicide Fund (Oranga Rangatahi): $8m over four years boosting existing fund to build on suicide prevention work.
- Mobile Health Clinic (Waka Oranga): $1m over one year with rural communities to better access to health services.
- Kohanga Reo: $5m over three years increasing participation in kohanga reo and learning te reo Maori.
- Te Mangai Paho: $10m over four years with more Maori programmes and content on multiple platforms.
- Te Matawai: $3m over two years with more funding to support language planning initiatives for te reo Maori.
- Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori: $3m over two years to ensure public sector agencies promote and protect te reo Maori.
- Maori Land Service: $30.9m over one year to establish phase one of the service to support and advise Maori landowners
- Te Ture Whenua enactment: $2m over three years educating landowners to make the most of the changes through the reforms.
- Te Mana o te Wai: $1m over one year for extra funding for Maori entities to support projects that improve water quality.
- New Zealand Maori Tourism: $10m over four years creating new employment opportunities in Maori tourism.
- He Kai Kei Aku Ringa: $2m over two years to help grow Maori enterprises and create more jobs in the regions.
- Marae Ora (sustaining the marae, sustaining the paepae): $10m over four years to improve, restore and revitalise the cultural and physical integrity of the marae.
- Maori Housing Network (Kainga Ora): $8m over four years to fund home improvements, whanau housing projects and affordable housing.
- Pathways to Home Ownership (Te Ara Mauwhare): $9m over three years trialling new approaches to help whanau into their own homes.