THIS year has been huge, and I'm proud to be part of the 13-strong Labour Māori caucus, helping this coalition government put things right for all New Zealanders – especially those working harder and getting no further ahead.
We're delivering for Māori, putting whānau first and — most of all — we're getting on with the job.
In 2018, I was honoured to see Te Korowai o Wainuiārua sign an agreement in principle with the Crown in regard to their claims settlement process.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's koha towards housing at Rātana while attending Te Waru o Noema was beautifully received, and the kaimahi at my new Whanganui office were excited to hear our city won the rights to host the Labour Party conference of 2019.
Nationally, our economy is strong, with New Zealand's lowest unemployment rate in 10 years — and the unemployment rate for Māori is also down to just 8.5 per cent. We've done this by building an economy that realises the value of all New Zealanders.
From Te Tai Hauāuru to Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, we're revitalising our regions. The Provincial Growth Fund has invested $48 million into Manawatū-Whanganui initiatives alone in 2018, creating jobs, educational opportunities and enhancing our potential for growth.
Māori received $1.2 billion from our Families Package, while the winter energy payment helped 46,000 kaumātua and 97,000 Māori on core benefits warm their whare.
And the 17,000 Māori babies born each year are now greeted with $60 per week thanks to the government's Best Start Credit relieving financial pressures on young families.
We are committed to ensuring rangatahi have access to education and supports to reach their potential. That's why we invested $20 million in a new site for Manukura, in total pledging over $1 billion for education initiatives since we came into government.
In terms of housing, we've banned unfair letting fees, and created a new unit — led by the Nanaia Mahuta — to stop Māori being at the sharp end of Aotearoa's housing crisis. We also announced 6400 more state houses across the motu – 180 for the central region.
There's so much more that I'm proud of. We've lowered prison numbers, cut the cost of visiting the doctor for around 600,000 New Zealanders, raised the minimum wage, extended paid parental leave …
And there is plenty more to do but, for now, I hope you have a well-deserved, restful break.
Stay safe on the roads and watch tamariki around water; most of all, take care of each other whānau.
Adrian Rurawhe is MP for Te Tai Hauauru