'It's extremely disappointing, you know?' - Labour MPs under fire over lack of targeted spending for Maori

Selling the budget to Maori is a challenge for any government.

Labour says its big ticket items will be good for Maori, like the families package it announced earlier, as well as cheaper doctors' visits and building more houses.

"We made a commitment during the campaign that we would focus on housing, health and education. We ran a mainstream campaign during the election. We didn't talk about foreshore and seabed," Labour MP Willie Jackson said.

"Mainstreaming Maori issues has shown over the decades it doesn’t work," Maori Party president Che Wilson said.

Whanau Ora providers, which work with disadvantaged Maori families, are unhappy Labour hasn't delivered an election promise of $20 million in extra funding.

Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, chief executive of the Te Pou Matakana Whanau Ora commissioning agency, said it's been a long-standing struggle to convince the government to provide more funding for mainstream Maori issues.

"We're in here for the long haul and that's been the problem - trying to convince the government, the previous government and this government that the needs are great. They didn't just happen overnight and they will not be solved overnight as well," Ms Raukawa-Tait said.

Targeted Maori spending for things like broadcasting, community and economic development are also under scrutiny.

The Maori development budget is $316 million this year but that's dropped from under National and the Maori Party when it was $328 million.

The drop in funding has led critics to say the Labour Maori caucus hasn't done well enough.

"It's extremely disappointing, you know? We had two MPs in parliament from the Maori Party and we were still able to leverage and you've got 13 Maori MPs in Labour and it looks like there's no leverage," Mr Wilson said.

However, Labour rejects the Maori Party leader’s claims.

"What I’d say to the Maori Party is turituri - we've got $1.2 billion in the families package alone. That will go to Maori - that's huge in anyone's books," Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis said.

Critics says ground's been lost on targeted funding, but Labour says what's good for everyone is good for Maori. Source: 1 NEWS

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