Budget reflections – published 18 May 2023

While this year’s Budget was expectedly conservative, it’s pleasing to see a strong theme of community and whānau wellbeing threaded throughout.

Budget 2023 carries through the familiar wellbeing theme of past years, and possibly rightly so as it squarely focuses its attention on cushioning the blow of tough economic times for whānau.

The extension of 20 hours ECE funding to two-year-olds, investment into energy cost savings for families, and free transport for kids are all positive initiatives. Other initiatives, while wellbeing focused, seem to be necessary simply to hold our ship steady – health investment as an example. Investing into cyclone recovery and resilience is positive, and I look forward to seeing the detail of the delivery model – where I’d like to see a focus on more local community and iwi input and investment.

For Māori, the investment into Māori housing, Whānau Ora, shows focus on key issues that assist and build our social resilience into the future. One special mention from this super kapa haka fan…funding for Te Matatini is a welcome sight, and a great investment into community and whānau wellbeing, not to mention our national Māori identity.

Kaapua Smith

Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Awa - Partner

KPMG in New Zealand


The social investment needed for resilient people and communities – published 9 May 2023

There is a well-known whakatauki (Māori proverb) from Whanganui:

Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au - I am the river and the river is me

I share this saying for two reasons. The first is because it speaks to the interconnected nature of the environment and its people. We care for our river as if it is our ancestor, and in return the river nurtures us. When our environment is harmed or at risk, so too are the communities that rely on a healthy environment to sustain them.

The second is because it is a good example of how the nuances of indigenous perspectives can help us think differently about what we’re seeing, and therefore how we might respond. The challenge as we’ve named it, interpreted it, chosen to prepare or react to it – may all change with a slight shift in our perspective, available tools, and values.

Both of these points stand out as underlying themes to growing our resilience as a community into the future.

When thinking about recovery and resilience, we need to think about how we address the complexities of the social impacts felt by whānau, families and communities in New Zealand alongside the physical and economic impacts. We are a nation made up of diverse communities with diverse experiences, issues and needs. We had inequity before these disasters, and it is still here post. In some whānau and communities these inequities are likely to be exacerbated. Against a backdrop of concerning levels of inflation and rising costs of living, some communities have been further impacted through physical loss of access to wellbeing services, financial losses associated with losing their businesses or jobs and more.

It is a tough time. So the question is, how will Budget 2023 provide for the social investment required to assist in recovery and resilience while maintaining its focus on addressing existing inequity within our communities?

Over recent years the Government has made significant investments into health and welfare initiatives. There has also been a deliberate focus on addressing equity related issues and in maturing the Government’s role as a Treaty partner through ambitious reform programmes across the social and environmental spheres. 

At the same time, there has been a growing call from local communities and iwi for better partnership models, trust, and locally-led solutions. As an example, one of the lessons we learned through the Covid-19 and disaster responses is that knowing how to reach people is vital in getting support in to where its needed. It sounds simple, but in practice it can be complicated without the right relationships local intel, capacity and infrastructure to respond. Not to mention another important ingredient – the trust of the people you are serving.

While rebuilding and future proofing is absolutely on the cards from an infrastructure and business perspective, the social investment required to carry our families and communities through what could be a very tough time while investing into the social resilience required to sustain us into the future, and for future generations, is a challenge for Budget 2023 and beyond.

About the author

Kaapua leads KPMG’s Economic and Social Development Impact team and is a specialist in Kaupapa Māori strategy, policy and engagement. Anchored by her commitment to Māori development her career over 20 years has seen her work across the breadth of social, environmental and economic development initiatives in public, private and Māori organisations.

As an advocate for the development of Kaupapa Māori, Kaapua believes that Māori knowledge, systems and tikanga can contribute to the sustainability of our country's natural resources, as well as the advancement of the communities which most need support.

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