Maori Affairs Minister Peter Sharples is promising to lobby for education funding for Auckland's cash-strapped Polyfest schools cultural competition.
Dr Sharples, who is also the associate Education Minister, made the promise after a challenge from Labour MPs during the festival's opening ceremony on Wednesday.
More than 9000 students from 58 schools are taking part this year.
But the festival is in the red and its financial future is uncertain, after the withdrawal of more than $150,000 in sponsorship from government agencies.
Dr Sharples says he agrees with the call for Polyfest to get education funding.
He says the festival's importance to teaching Maori and Pacific languages and cultures, and the fact those subjects are taught at NCEA, puts it squarely in the education budget.
Dr Sharples says he plans to rally support from National, Labour and the Greens to lobby the Finance Minister for next year's budget round.