Milestone wins from a challenging year

By: Tamati Coffey

Tamati Coffey
Labour List MP

 The past year has hit Aotearoa hard and New Zealanders have thankfully risen to the challenge, because it could have been so much worse.

Thanks to the mandate you gave us, this Labour government has gotten on with the job of protecting our whānau, working with iwi and communities to not just respond to the threat of a global pandemic unlike any other, but continue the record progress being made in tackling the long term challenges facing our rohe too, such as housing, health and employment.

What’s good for Māori is great for New Zealand. For Māori, the wins led by this government through parliament have been unprecedented.

On top of reaching record low levels of unemployment and wider initiatives like expanding free lunches in schools, the wage subsidy, and free trade apprenticeships, for te ao Māori highlights of that ‘unprecedented year’ look like this:

  • We delivered on our commitment to better recognise Matariki , creating our own public holiday that begins in 2022 - the first to distinctly recognise Te Ao Māori.
  • We began establishing an independent Māori Health Authority to transform Māori health outcomes.
  • We further delivered on our commitment to tackling the housing crisis through partnership, with the largest-ever investment in Māori housing solutions - $730 million for papakāinga, Māori housing projects, repairs and infrastructure.
  • We committed over $280 million towards a Māori-targeted response to Covid-19 , the vaccine roll-out and to prepare our communities for the future, using a ‘by-Māori, for-Māori’ approach.
  • We put in place the same rules to establish Māori Wards as general wards in local government, providing every rohe opportunities to fairly strengthen the voice of tangata whenua at their decision-making tables.
  • We delivered a progressive procurement policy that gives Māori businesses a larger slice of job-creating government contracts, with the initial target set for review soon.
  • We invested heavily in our future generations and the future of te reo Māori, with $150 million for Māori education - supporting kura kaupapa Māori, lifting kōhanga reo teachers’ pay, and backing the abilities of Māori boarding schools to house, educate and manaaki rangatahi.

I give the biggest mihi possible to all of you out there whose tautoko made our ability to create this difference for our people possible.

While there is more to mention and plenty more mahi to do, this is what you get from having a record 15-strong Labour Māori Caucus advocating at every level of government - including five Māori ministers at the cabinet table.

This mahi has kept the momentum Labour built in our first term in government going, through kaupapa such as $100 million for marae upgrades, $200 million for Māori employment and much, much more.

It is my commitment – and that of my colleagues in the Labour Māori caucus – to keep our foot firmly on the pedal in 2022. Again, what is good for Māori in the Western Bay is great for everyone.