On 2 July, Ngāi Te Rangi were given the opportunity to host Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honorable Bill English, along with the Minister of Social Development Anne Tolley for a presentation of the Government’s 2015 Budget.
This was an opportunity for Ngāi Te Rangi to demonstrate its political astuteness and engage with the Crown, rangatira ki te rangatira. It also provided an opportunity for Tauranga Moana and our strategic partners to challenge the Minister on how the government’s budget will support the objectives of iwi and the Tauranga community.
Simply put, the Government’s objective is to increase surpluses and reduce debt and the key to achieving that is to reduce the Government’s ‘customers’ or ‘socially dependent people’. The less customers; the less expenditure; the greater the surplus. But in order to reduce the number of customers , the government first needs to understand the customer. Therefore the Government has dedicated $52 billion in 2015/16 to addresssing social matters; health, justice, education and welfare.
Ngāi Te Rangi trustee, Turi Ngatai, challenged the Minister to work with iwi, specifically asking the question “how can iwi access the funding to assist the government to reduce it’s customers”, (acknowledging that many of the customers that the Government is refering to are likely to be our iwi members/Māori).
Rather than give the money to the government organisations in Tauranga, work with iwi and their hapū who better understand the ‘customer’ and are better placed to meet those needs. This is would be a win win position for the Government and Iwi. Iwi/hapū build the capability and capacity of whānau which in turn reduces the customers of the Government. The Minister agreed that this is possibly the better solution, but noted that the difficulty is getting this approved.
What that says, is that this outcome could be achieved, but will require a considered and consistent effort on behalf of iwi. One of the many important conversations to be had in the future.