Targeted Government support for Māori communities and businesses

Following the Government’s initial funding stimulus package, an additional package focussed on providing support to Māori as part of the Covid-19 response was announced.  This includes:

  • Reprioritising $10 million to support community outreach. This includes steps taken by Te Puni Kōkiri including:
    • a refocus of TPK Regional Hubs to support whānau, hapū and iwi;
    • partnering with whānau, hapū, iwi and communities to give them the tools and resources they need to support a targeted response;
    • providing infrastructure and technology support to our communities;
    • supporting Māori health providers to enable their clinical expertise to reach whānau Māori and communities and assist in assessing the psychosocial needs within the community and co-ordinate with necessary tikanga related support.
  • $30 million targeted directly to Māori Health services and an extra $15 million to Whānau Ora commissioning agencies. The Māori Health funding includes:
    • provide financial support for whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori communities – payment for prescriptions, health services etc;
    • kuia and koroua support – in-home care continuity to keep kaumatua healthy and well (e.g. food parcels, resources, medications);
    • build-in to the telehealth service a call-back mechanism to ensure all Māori whānau, hapū, and iwi are receiving timely health advice;
    • Whānau Ora are also working with wholesale suppliers to look at providing winter packs and kai packs for whānau.
  • $1 million of funding to support Māori businesses, this will enable a needs assessment for Māori businesses (in partnership with NZ Māori Tourism, FOMA, Te Puni Kōkiri, Poutama and Māori Women’s Institute).
    • The initiative is being led by NZ Māori Tourism but is open to members from all partner organisations/industries and will provide support to Māori businesses ranging from assisting with completing forms, providing HR and cash flow advice particularly to businesses facing insolvency. A 3-phase approach is to be taken; triaging calls received (O800 4 POUTAMA); provision of support via external consultancy GHA and implementation.
    • Support being provided under this initiative extends to MIOs (via AHCs).
    • Although this fund is very limited, it is envisaged that the needs assessments prepared will provide a firm basis for sourcing of additional funds targeted to supporting Māori businesses.
  • $470,000 reprioritised to Te Arawhiti to engage and work with iwi on their COVID-19 pandemic response planning
    • Te Arawhiti began contacting Iwi as soon as the funding announcement was made. Requests have far exceeded the $470,000 that was announced and they are now in the process of doing the final reconciliation of applications. Te Arawhiti have prioritised Iwi for this funding who are yet to receive a Treaty settlement and those who are in remote areas with high Māori populations.

Wider Government financial support:

The Government announced a $12.1 billion economic stimulus package on 17 March with further initiatives announced in the days following. The package and further initiatives include:

  • a wage subsidy scheme;
  • business cash flow and tax measures;
  • mortgage relief package;
  • rent freeze and ban on terminations of tenancies/evictions (other than in exceptional circumstances);
  • doubling winter energy payment;
  • main benefit increases;
  • business Finance Guarantee Scheme;
  • essential workers leave scheme.

Key initiatives are explored in more detail below.

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy

The COVID-19 wage may be available to employers, contractors, sole traders and to those who are self-employed, to qualify:

  • must be a registered business and operating in New Zealand (registered businesses have a 13 digit NZBN, can be searched and applied for here:;
  • employees must be legally working in New Zealand;
  • the business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month when compared with the same month last year, and that decline is related to COVID-19;
  • the business must have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19;
  • must make best efforts to retain employees and pay them a minimum of 80% of their normal income for the subsidised period.

The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy will be paid at a flat rate of:

  • $585.80 for people working 20 hours or more per week
  • $350.00 for people working less than 20 hours per week.

Guidelines and applications:

Funding guidelines:

Employer application:

Self-employed (no employees) application:

Mortgage relief package

Banks are offering to defer repayments for all residential mortgages and those of SMEs, for up to 6 months for customers financially affected by COVID-19.

Mortgage repayment deferrals mean that affected customers who apply to their bank will not make principal and interest payments on their loans for up to 6 months.

Key details of this scheme:

  • interest will still be accrued during the repayment holiday period and deferred interest will be added to the principal amount of your mortgage;
  • banks will assess suitability case by case;
  • the approach to the scheme will differ between banks and those details, including eligibility criteria, will be available from each bank;

Business Finance Guarantee Scheme

The Government and the banks have agreed to implement a $6.25 billion Business Finance Guarantee Scheme to support small to medium-sized businesses impacted temporarily by COVID-19. To be eligible businesses would need to have been otherwise viable prior to COVID-19. Under the scheme the Crown will partner with approved participating banks to support loans to businesses (new or increases to existing loans).

The scheme is available to New Zealand-based businesses with an annual turnover between $250,000 and $80,000,000.

Loans will be available under the scheme until 30 September 2020, applications are to be made to participating banks.

Business Continuity Package

There are five proposals related to tax.

  • giving Inland Revenue the discretion to remit use-of-money interest for customers significantly adversely affected by COVID-19;
  • increasing the provisional tax threshold from $2,500 to $5,000 from 2020/2021;
  • increasing the small asset depreciation threshold from $500 to $1,000 – and to $5,000 for the 2020/21 tax year;
  • allowing depreciation on commercial and industrial buildings from 2020/2021;
  • removing the hours test from the In-Work Tax Credit from 1 July 2020.

Essential workers leave scheme

The scheme covers four categories of essential workers:

  1. Workers who are sick with COVID-19 who are required to remain in isolation until advised by a health professional that they can be released from isolation.
  2. Workers who are in self-isolation due to close contact with an infected person. For example, a worker identified as possibly infected through contact tracing.
  3. Workers with dependents who are either sick with COVID-19, or whose dependents are self-isolating as a close contact.
  4. Workers who have serious health conditions themselves, or in their household, that put them at higher risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19, and who agree with their employer that they will not work for an agreed period.

The scheme provides the essential business with the same value subsidy per week as provided under the wage subsidy scheme and like that scheme businesses are required to make best endeavours to pay 80% of the employee’s usual wage and at a minimum the rate of the leave payment (or the employee’s actual wages if they are usually less than the leave payment).

Where to go for services and support

Contact sheet for services and support

Unite against COVID-19 Government website
COVID-19 advice for Māori – National Māori Pandemic Group
Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā (
Coronavirus hotline
0800 358 5453
Ministry of Health website
Advice and support for essential businesses

0800 22 66 57 (9am–5pm, Monday–Friday)

Mental Health Foundation
Mental wellbeing