Te Pāti Māori wants to remove GST from all kai in Aotearoa, and say it would play a role in creating better Māori health outcomes by making food more accessible.
The policy was announced on Wednesday morning by co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.
It’s not a new idea for Te Pāti Māori - it was originally introduced in 2010 by former MP Rahui Katene, though he aimed to remove the 15% Goods and Services Tax from healthy food only.
Labour had also campaigned for it to be cut from fruits and vegetables in the past.
Waititi told 1News this policy was different and included all types of kai so whānau wouldn’t be discriminated against for the food they bought.
“You can't just eat fruit and veges. We shouldn't discriminate against those whānau and their choice of kai and what they want to put into their cupboards.”
Dr Selah Hart, chief executive of Hāpai te Hauora, commended the policy but was concerned that removing GST from all kai would make sugary and less nutritious foods more accessible, especially for tamariki.
“Anything we can do to remove barriers to access kai is a really important move because we do know many whānau are struggling with that accessibility,” she told 1News.
“But, if we look at it from a nutrition perspective - we would probably want it to be more targeted - kai that is of good nutritional value.”
Waititi agreed that the idiosyncrasies of food would need to be looked at, but believed this policy would have the reverse effect for whānau and would make nutritious kai more accessible.
“At the moment, the most expensive foods are healthy foods. So it will improve Māori health outcomes,” he said.
“We need to ensure that our whānau have a fighting chance in terms of being able to fill their cupboards with kai.”
Waititi said food sovereignty had always been at the forefront of any food policy the party made.
He said this policy would “incentivise hauora”, with a look to creating educational programmes for whānau in the future to be able to grow their own kai.
“It has to be a whole package, it can’t just be one focus. It’s about the holistic wellbeing of our whānau, and not just one area.”
By removing GST, Te Pāti Māori said it would instead create new taxes on wealth including capital gains, ghost house tax, financial services tax and pollution taxes, to alleviate the tax burden.
Co-leader Ngarewa-Packer said earlier getting rid of GST on kai should be a “no-brainer”.
“GST is a regressive tax that targets lower-income whānau who are forced to spend nearly every cent they earn. Meanwhile the wealthy have untaxed wealth accumulating in housing, trusts and investment funds.
“Food is a right and a necessity. Getting rid of GST on food should be a no-brainer for this Government if they are serious about helping struggling whānau. Especially Māori whānau, who traditionally have more mouths to feed."
It comes as food prices in Aotearoa have seen the highest increase in a decade, with a 5.9% increase from January 2021 to January 2022.
The last time there was a similar jump in an annual increase was in 2011, at 6.6%.
GST in New Zealand has remained at 15% since 2010, when the previous National-led Government increased it from 12.5%.