Battlers are the big winners in the New Zealand budget, with Finance Minister Grant Robertson using an improved fiscal outlook to fund welfare raises.
On Thursday, Mr Robertson presented his first budget of Labour's second term - a budget which aims to stem the tide of inequality in New Zealand.
While there were other big spend-ups in health, housing and a redevelopment of New Zealand's Antarctic base, Jacinda Ardern's government has resisted the urge to borrow at Australian-style levels.
New Zealand will run a deficit of $NZ15.1 billion ($A14 billion) this year.
After last posting a surplus in 2019, the budget is not forecast to return to the black until 2026/27.
Debt will remain a constant too: it runs out to $NZ114 billion in 2021/22 before peaking in 2023/24 at $NZ184 billion - just below 50 per cent of GDP.
All that would be harrowing if it wasn't markedly better than predicted last year in a budget presented just a month after New Zealand's national lockdown.
"In the face of this one-in-100 year shock, the New Zealand economy has proved to be remarkably resilient," Mr Robertson said.
"New Zealanders have weathered the storm of COVID-19. Today we take the next steps in our recovery together."
Low-income New Zealanders will see much of the improved budgetary position.
New Zealand will spend an additional $NZ3.6 billion strengthening the social security net over the next four years, beginning with a weekly NZ$20 raise for beneficiaries in July.
Further raises will follow next year, which Mr Robertson said should be seen as generationally significant.
Ms Ardern said they made economic sense.
"Not only will this give a sense of dignity and hope to those who receive that boost in income, it will also help reduce inequality and provide ongoing stimulus to the economy," she said.
The government predicts it could bring 33,000 children out of poverty: a mission that Ms Ardern has made her signature political issue.
The Child Poverty Action Group has described the increase as "useful if insufficient", as 180,000 children would be left in poverty under the best case modelling.
"This is not yet the transformation (we) anticipated," CPAG spokeswoman Innes Asher said.
Underpinning the benefits bump is a vastly better set of books than a year previously.
The 2020 budget predicted three years of deficits each above $NZ27 billion.
The budget is still in the red, and debt is still mounting, but none of those deficits have been realised.
The 2019/20 deficit was realised at $NZ23.1 billion, this year will be $NZ15.1 billion, and next year is forecast at $NZ18.4 billion.
Unlike Australia, which is forecasting a decade of deficits, New Zealand has light at the tunnel with a $NZ100 million surplus predicted beyond the forward estimates in 2026.
Growth is forecast at 2.9 per cent this year, growing to 4.4 per cent in 2022/23.
Unemployment, currently 4.7 per cent, is forecast to hit 5.0 per cent next year, falling to 4.4 per cent in 2023.
The budget also contains a $NZ3.8 billion investment in housing, $NZ1.4 billion towards COVID-19 vaccines - both of which were already announced - and a $NZ306m redevelopment of the country's Scott Base in Antarctica.
The opposition has decried the budget, which has no tax relief, as "a budget for benefits, not jobs".
"How about a bit of ambition for our country?" National leader Judith Collins said in her parliamentary reply.
* 1 Australian dollar = 0.93 New Zealand cents