Woods and Māori caucus push back on claims of rift over Māori housing

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 4 May 2021, 1:51PM
Minister Megan Woods during a press conference on her way into the House (Photo / Mark Mitchell)
Minister Megan Woods during a press conference on her way into the House (Photo / Mark Mitchell)

Woods and Māori caucus push back on claims of rift over Māori housing

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 4 May 2021, 1:51PM

Housing Minister Megan Woods is pushing back against claims that she and Labour's Māori caucus members had a spat over the level of funding for Māori housing.

As are members of that caucus, who this morning took aim at media reporting there was a rift between Woods and the Māori caucus.

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson called reports of a spat "nonsense" and an "exaggeration".

Labour's Deputy Leader, and senior Cabinet minister, Kelvin Davis, "categorically denied that there is any rift", saying anything to the contrary was "baseless".

This comes after Newshub claimed there had been a "leak" and reported that there had been "major ructions" behind the scenes over Māori housing.

In a major housing package, announced by the Government in March, there was no specific funding set aside for Māori housing.

Instead, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said at the time there would be a package of funding in this area come Budget day.

Members of the Māori caucus referenced this a number of times this morning, while trying to pour cold water over claims there had been a behind-the-scene scrap.

But Jackson did say there had been "robust" conversations between the Māori caucus and Woods about the level of funding.

"Just because you have a negotiation does not mean you have a fight."

He said this was a normal part of the Budget process and it happens right across the political spectrum when it comes to ministers asking for funding in particular areas.

Cabinet minister and senior Māori caucus member Peeni Henare said these types of debates are "part of a healthy democracy".

But Māori caucus member Rino Tirikatene let slip that there were "issues around the overall announcement that happened in March".

"But we sought briefings from ministers, including Minister Woods, and we're very happy with that."

When pressed by media if she was a barrier to Māori getting what they wanted in terms of housing in the budget, Woods said she was "absolutely not".

She had briefed the Māori caucus on the Government's plans for Māori housing.

"We talked about how it is we may best enable Māori Housing across both Whenua Māori and through iwi organisations."

She said that when the first housing package was announced in March, the Government was clear that more would be coming in the budget.

Woods added that the robust debate was broadly the same as it has been in other years before the Budget.