Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says she isn't disappointed with her downsized Whanau Ora social services delivery programme but opposition MPs say she should be, and former MP John Tamihere doubts enough money has been set aside.
Details of the new way to help families in strife were released yesterday by Mrs Turia and Prime Minister John Key, who were both optimistic about its ability to change the face of welfare, using "navigators" to help families better access social services.
The budget will put $134.3 million into Whanau Ora over the next four years, well short of the $1 billion that had been floated when it was conceived, though more will be allocated as existing contracts are diverted to the policy.
Mr Tamihere, who heads a major Maori social services provider in west Auckland, said the initial funding was only a start and more cash would be needed to allow some areas to take part.
Waipareira Trust chief executive Mr Tamihere told The Dominion Post he welcomed the funding, but warned that it would not be enough to help fledgling organisations.
Waipareira Trust has more than 200 staff and $15m in contracts,
"The next question is, is the budget realistic enough? In some communities it will be, in other communities ... it might not be enough to tip the scale," Mr Tamihere said.
Whanau Ora aims to streamline health and social services for the neediest families.
The cash will come mostly from unallocated funds in the Pathways to Partnership programme, set up by Labour to fully fund non-government groups providing social services.
The budget funding includes $20m to research and evaluate Whanau Ora, with participating providers expected to show concrete results within two years.
The establishment phase will be monitored by government ministers and departments, rather than an independent trust proposed by the Whanau Ora taskforce.
"Tariana Turia must feel a little short changed," said Labour's Nanaia Mahuta.
"Whanau Ora was touted as a massive overhaul of the way social services were going to be delivered to Maori but the government's financial commitment doesn't reflect this initial promise."
Labour's deputy leader, Annette King, said more money was being put into the cycleway that Mr Key has championed.
"The Maori Party calls it the first wave of funding, I'd call it more of a trickle," she said.
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei told Radio New Zealand the policy had been set up to fail, and Maori would be blamed when it did.
It would not be the first time Government had invested in a Maori policy and given it not enough money or support.
"When it fails -- and I think it will here -- Maori get the blame. I think it's a real problem in the future."
Mrs Turia didn't let them get her down, saying more money would be rolled out as Whanau Ora proved itself, and Mr Key agreed.
The prime minister said it marked a significant change to the way assistance was delivered to families, and a change for the better.
"Thousands of families are receiving help from government agencies for a range of issue," he said.
"But too often this assistance is uncoordinated, fragmented, and simply isn't getting the results those families need."
Whanau Ora will bring together those agencies under case workers who will deal with all the problems stricken families face, working with the police as well if they have to.
Mrs Turia called them "navigators" for families who would help them access the help they needed.
Regional leadership teams will be set up in 10 areas, with community representatives sitting alongside local agencies.