From our first day in Government, we have put the wellbeing of New Zealanders at the heart of everything we do. This Budget reflects that – and builds on the work we’re already doing to deliver on the long-term challenges facing New Zealand.

This year, we’re doing the Budget differently.

We’re focused on more than just GDP.

"[GDP] measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile." – Bobby Kennedy

That means that, as well as keeping debt down, managing the books responsibly, and delivering a healthy surplus, we’re focused on the things that really matter to New Zealanders. We set out five key priorities for Budget 2019: 

  • Taking mental health seriously
  • Improving child wellbeing
  • Supporting Māori and Pasifika aspirations
  • Building a productive nation
  • and Transforming the economy

Taking mental health seriously

In this Budget, we’re putting the mental health and wellbeing of New Zealanders front and centre.

For too long, we’ve tackled mental health or addiction only when it becomes a crisis. We’ve left too many of our people on their own.

This Budget we have demonstrated our commitment to the mental health of New Zealanders with the biggest investment in mental health in any Budget, ever.

The investment will transform how we approach mental health and addiction services in New Zealand.

It will build a new frontline service for mental health, with entirely new services and hundreds of new staff. Over time, it will mean everyone who needs it can get free, immediate access to mental health support, in a way that works for them.

Trained mental health workers will work alongside GPs, NGOs, kaupapa Māori, community organisations, universities and youth centres across New Zealand, making it easier for people to get help before distress becomes crisis. Online services will also be available – so there really is no wrong door to go through for help.

We’re also boosting suicide prevention services, and we’re reaching 5,600 extra secondary students with more nurses in school.

We know mental health and addiction services often stem from other issues outside the health sector, like employment, poverty, and homelessness. Our work on tackling homelessness will now mean a total of 2,700 people now have permanent, warm, dry housing through Housing First – the biggest government investment ever in addressing chronic homelessness.

Want to know more about how we’re taking mental health seriously? Click here to find out more.

Improving child wellbeing

We want New Zealand to be the best place in the world to be a child.

Budget 2019 makes school education free again.

Families of nearly half a million children at 1,700 schools stand to benefit from no longer having to pay school donations as a result of the Wellbeing Budget.

All decile 1-7 state and state-integrated schools, attended by about 63 per cent of all students, will be eligible to receive $150 per student per year if the school agrees to stop requesting donations from parents.

Earlier this month, we announced we’re working across Government departments to break the cycle of family and sexual violence. We know that almost 300,000 children are affected by domestic violence. As part of this package, we’re introducing specialist services that cater specifically to children and their needs.

We’re also providing more support for children in State care, including helping 3,000 young people into independent living.

We’re lifting incomes to make it easier for families to make ends meet, by indexing main benefits and removing punitive sanctions.

Waitangi 2018

Supporting Māori and Pasifika aspirations

We’ve committed to doing things differently together with our Māori and Pasifika communities

The centrepiece of this is a major boost for Whānau Ora. It focuses on reducing inequality in healthcare for Māori and Pacific peoples by providing targeted services and support, and growing our Māori and Pacific health workforces.

It will also reduce rates of reoffending, with a new kaupapa-based corrections pathway. This initiative is a whānau-centered approach, co-designed by Whānau Ora, Corrections, the Ministry of Social Development, and Iwi, and is designed to tackle the overrepresentation of Māori in the prison system.

We’re ensuring te reo Māori and Pacific languages survive and thrive, with more support for te reo teacher certification, investment in te reo Māori and Māori focused content, and the establishment of a new Pacific Language Unit.

And we’re making sure that Pacific students and their families can get the skills, knowledge, and opportunities they need to succeed, with an additional 2,200 young people in the Pacific Employment Service.

Building a productive nation

To build productivity and drive growth in the digital age, we need to make sure we stay at the cutting-edge of technology and innovation.

We’re injecting funding into innovation, with initiatives to support businesses to become more productive and help New Zealand transition to a low-carbon future, and we’re bridging the venture capital gap, with a fund for start-ups to grow and succeed.

We’re investing in making sure New Zealanders are equipped with the skills they need to adapt and succeed as their workplaces change. We’ve launched a vital reform of our vocational education and training system, and we’re getting more people into apprenticeships and trade training, with opportunities for nearly 2,000 young people through Mana in Mahi.

The Wellbeing Budget also builds on our work with the School Leavers Toolkit, a programme of civics knowledge and skills, budget advice, and key workplace know-how, to better equip young people for life after leaving school.

Transforming the economy

The transition to a low-carbon economy will take time and Budget 2019 is an important step.

We’re providing funding to the Independent Climate Change Commission so they can help guide New Zealand in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

We also know the impact of climate change on our agricultural and horticultural sector is undeniable. That’s why we’re helping farmers and councils to change how they use land in positive ways, encouraging sustainable land use, and a focus on freshwater – improving water quality in at-risk catchments.

We’re delivering a major boost in funding for KiwiRail, which will unlock regional economic growth, reduce emissions and traffic congestion, and prevent deaths and injuries on our roads.

Photo: Reid McNaught

Further investment in infrastructure

While we’re focused on our key priorities, we know it’s incredibly important to keep investing infrastructure. Without good, reliable infrastructure, we can’t provide the things that New Zealanders expect and deserve – like good schooling or quality healthcare.

We’ve already started work on fixing our hospitals, but with this Budget, we’re doing even more – because New Zealanders should be able to rely on hospitals that are functional and fit-for-purpose.

With more funding for DHBs, and an extension of the bowel screening programme, we are on our way to making sure everyone can get access to quality healthcare when they need it.

We also already started work on rebuilding and upgrading schools and classrooms, and we’re boosting that work as well, with a 10-year investment in new buildings for schools.

These investments are crucial to keep our country running smoothly, and to keep our public services delivering for New Zealanders.

The Wellbeing Budget is an entirely new approach to how we tackle New Zealand’s long-term challenges. Change doesn’t happen overnight – but this is a major step in the right direction.

We’re continuing to manage the books responsibly, making sure we’re investing in critical infrastructure while delivering our second surplus.

But we’re also looking beyond the annual marker of a yearly Budget, and beyond the horizon of a three-year term, to look at what will actually make a difference in tackling those long-term issues New Zealanders care about – like mental health, child poverty, and climate change.

We’re proud of our Wellbeing Budget 2019, and we look forward to seeing the impact of our landmark policies in years to come.

Want to read the full Budget? Click here.

Want to know more about how we’re taking mental health seriously? Click here to find out more.