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Budget 2004: delivering for Maori

Budget 2004: delivering for Maori

Budget 2004 is good news for Maori families, with significant new funding that will greatly assist Maori families and communities, Associate Maori Affairs Minister John Tamihere says.

Mr Tamihere says new funding announced in Budget 2004 will help Maori families, both through specifically tailored programmes and across-the-board initiatives that will benefit Maori.

Specific Maori-related initiatives include:

Economic Development:

- Business development: $10 million over four years to expand the Maori Business Facilitation Service, and $8 million to build Maori Business Networks. The Growth and Innovation Framework provides the opportunity for regional development funding.

- Courts/Lands: $23 million over four years to implement the Maori Freehold Land Registration Project to ensure Maori land is correctly recorded on the land titles system, ensuring that potentially hundreds of thousands of hectares is available to raise capital for investment.

- Treaty Negotiations: An extra $4.9 million to fund up to seven extra staff at the Office of Treaty Settlements to maintain the rate of settlements. This is on top of an average $100 million a year for Treaty settlements.

- Fisheries: $17 million to increase Maori participation in fisheries management, implement customary fishing regulations and increase Ministry of Fisheries capacity to meets its fisheries settlement and Treaty obligations relating to the multi-million Maori Fisheries Bill.

Social Development:

- Whanau development: $40 million over four years on initiatives aimed at strengthening whanau. This comes on top of $31 million in Ministry of Social Development funding to help families in difficulty, and includes funding to Maori service providers.

- Voluntary/community sector: $3.4 million for a national entity to act as a focal point for community, voluntary and Maori organisations and oversee projects.

- Language, sport and culture: $8 million over four years to support community based sports activities and $4 million over four years to strengthen use of Maori language in whanau and communities. This is on top of hundreds of thousands of dollar in baseline funding for education.

Mr Tamihere said that tens of thousands of Maori families would also gain from the budget's Working for Families package, which targets low-middle income families and families with children.

"Maori are over-represented in our lower-earning families, and on average have more children than non-Maori. Working for Families will see the less well-off families in our communities, many of them Maori, have something extra to help pay the rent or mortgage, and to feed and clothe their families and pay the bills. On average this work out to about $100 extra a week in the paypackets of Maori families."

Other new funding, such as an extra $5.5 million on suicide prevention, and $56.9 million to help young people enter the workforce, further education or training, would also benefit Maori communities.

Mr Tamihere says the budget will build on the government's track record of achievement for Maori in bringing Maori unemployment to a 20-year low, doubling Maori participation in tertiary education, launching Maori TV, increasing Maori life expectation and seeing significant assets move into Maori communities.

"Maori have seen significant gains already during the terms of this government. Budget 2004 builds on those gains to ensure that Maori are better off in health, education, employment, housing and economic development, and I applaud that."

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