Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, May 21, 2010

Boost for pre-school participation

The government will spend $91.8 million over the next four years on early childhood education for Maori and Pasifika children.

Education minister Anne Tolley says she wants to do somethng about the lower participation rates, with only 91 percent of Maori and 85 percent of Pasifika children attending kindergarten, kohanga reo or other pre-school.

She says a community-based programme in Counties Manukau, started after the 2008 Manukau Early Childhood summit identified long term social problems caused by a lack of pre-school education in the area, has pointed the way forward.

The programme will initially be developed in five centres around the country.

“We're targeting another 3500 children to get them into early childhood because we know it has such a significant effect on their readiness for school but it’s working from the community level up. It’s not to be driven by the communities. It’s no good the government rising in and saying ‘this is what you need,’” Mrs Tolley says.

Funding will come from other areas of early childhood education.

MAORI TRUSTS DENIED TAX HELP IN BUDGET

The chief executive of the Federation of Maori Authorities says his members have been left out of the corporate tax cut.

Ron Mark says most Maori incorporations and trusts are taxed at 17.5 percent, and they could have expected yesterday's Budget to preserve relativity with the main tax.

The former New Zealand first MP says Parliament had good reasons for creating the gap in tax rates in the first place.

“Everybody knows that Maori trusts and Maori incorporations reinvest hugely back into their businesses, and that is where the advantage and that is where the difference is. If we pay out dividends to our people, our people pay tax accordingly depending on their income as they should be, but there were very specific reasons that parliament decided to reduce the tax rate for Maori trusts, Maori incorporations,” Mr Mark says.

He says the extra funding for research and development trumpeted in the Budget won't help Maori farmers who want to add value to their products, and he's skeptical the tax cuts will offset the impact the increase in GST will have on Maori families.

WIDER REINTEGRATION EFFORTS NEEDED IN PRISON SYSTEM

Prison reform advocate Peter Williams QC says the establishment of kaupapa Maori centres to reintegrate Maori prisoners back into their communities is long overdue, and needs to be part of a wider focus on rehabilitation.

Yesterday's Budget included $19.8 million to build and run two 16-bed Whare Oranga Ake units in Auckland and Hawkes bay.

Mr Williams says they will only scratch the surface of what's needed for all prisoners, not just Maori.

“There's a great need for training, job training, there’s a great need for halfway houses so that when particularly long term prisoners come out they’ve got a place where they can live for a while with some supervision and assistance in getting jobs, there’s a tremendous need for rehabilitation facilities in this country,” he says.

Mr Williams says anything gained from the establishment of Whare Oranga Ake units will be more than offset by the new three strikes or Sentencing and Parole Act, which he predicts will cause mayhem in the prison system.

LITTLE FOR MAORI IN ENGLISH BUDGET

The chief executive of the Federation of Maori Authorities says there is little for Maori in Bill English's second budget.

Ron Mark says Maori trusts and incorporations miss out on the cuts to company tax because most are already on a special 17.5 percent rate, and they also won't benefit from changes to funding for research and development.

The former New Zealand First MP says he's also skeptical about the budget tables which claim to show that the rise in GST to 15 percent will be offset by tax cuts, giving people a chance to save and invest.

“The thing that I do know is that for low income earners, wage and salary, Maori, they spend everything. They don’t save anything. Everything that comes into their pocket goes out. By the end of the week or the fortnight, it's gone,” Mr Mark says.

He says the tax changes are for the benefit of the more well off.

NZEI UNHAPPY AT SHIFT OF MONEY TO PARTICIPATION PUSH

The primary teachers’ union NZEI is welcoming a new programme to boost the percentage of Maori and Pasifika children in pre-school education for, but it's upset at how it will be funded.

Education minister Anne Tolley says initiatives will be set up in five centres over the next four years, based on a successful community-based initiative in South Auckland.

Judith Nowotarski , the NZEI's vice president, says the $91.8 million price tag is just a reallocation of existing funding.

“I recognise that they are putting a huge amount of money into participation programmes for Maori and Pasifika children and I wholeheartedly support that, it’s well targeted, but what they’re doing to taking funding away from services that also meet the need of many Maori and Pasifika children,” Mrs Nowotarski says.

One way the programme will be funded is by cutting back on a programme aimed at increasing the number of qualified teachers in mainstream pre-schools.

MIX OF VETERANS AND DEBUTANTES AT PAO PAO PAO

One of the hottest tickets in Wellington this weekend is for Pao Pao Pao at Pipitea Marae.

Organiser Ngahiwi Apanui says the two-day seminar and concert is a chance for Maori musicians old and new to share their experiences and their music.

He says the line-up for the event, which is in its eight year, includes Maisey Rika, Toni Huata, Whirimako Black and Mina Ripia.

“It also celebrates what we call Te Ara Puoro which is kind of like a home for all Maori musicians, no matter what you play, no matter what genre you’re in, the big thing is that you belong to a whanau which is called Te Whanau o Pao Pao Pao, so there are a number of people playing in Pa Pao Pao this year who will be making their debuts,” Mr Apanui says.

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