Council underspends Maori budget

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Maori Budget
Council underspends Maori budget

(RadioNZ) Auckland Council has managed to spend only a fraction of the budget earmarked for Maori initiatives, the board representing Maori in Auckland says.

The Independent Maori Statutory Board will on Thursday release a report by KPMG which shows Auckland Council spent only 25 percent of last year’s $4 million budget for Maori outcomes.

The report signals a more assertive stance by the board, created by the legislation which amalgamated Auckland’s eight councils in 2010, and whose members sit on most council committees.

Board chair David Taipari said not only did the council three years ago set spending for Maori outcomes far below where the board thought it should be, but it then failed to spend most of it.

“The question is priorities,” Mr Taipari said.

“That’s my question on behalf of the board to the council. Where is Maori in their priority list.

“Where I look at it now, it’s on the bottom rung. That’s a question council decision makers need to answer, where is it for them on their list, or is it where Maori have always been put – basically in second class.”

Mr Taipari said previous work between the board and council identified priorities, and it was unclear why the money had not been able to be spent.

These included upgrading marae, which he said were community facilities, community housing on Maori land, and developing a significant annual maori event in Auckland.

The KPMG report proposed a plan of action running over the next year to get greater detail on council spending, review the current level of budgets, and lock those into the council’s next 10-year Long Term Plan, which will be finalised next year.

The board and council have had a rocky relationship over the past three and a half years, with the board early on planning court action to ensure the council met its funding obligations to the board’s work.

A small group of councillors remain opposed to having board members sitting and voting on committees.

Mr Taipari said the KPMG report would form the platform for the future relationship between the board and the council.

“Until these funds and investments are realised, then the board will never have achieved its purpose,” he said.

“Success will be measured by the spend and investment in annual plans for the next 20 years.”

Mayor Len Brown already has a copy of the board’s report, but is not commenting before the committee meeting.

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