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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, May 21, 2010

Budget boost allows kaupapa to grow

The driving force behind a South Auckland initiative to increase Maori and Pacific participation in early childhood education is ecstatic about a Budget day boost for the kaupapa.

The Government says $91.8 million dollars will be spent rolling out the Manukau Education Trust's model to other centres around the country.

Trust chair Colleen Brown says a key element is building early childhood centres on school grounds, so there is a seamless transition from pre-school to primary school.

“Now that has presented some challenges for the Ministry of Education because essentially they are building on Ministry of Education land but then it is a community organisation that runs it so that’s a huge step away from where government thinking has been,” Ms Brown says.

The Manukau scheme emerged from a taskforce looking at long term responses to the death of the Kahui twins.


Meanwhile, Education Minister Anne Tolley and tertiary Minister Stephen Joyce were in south Auckland today opening a new building for an initiative at the other end of the education spectrum.

Manukau Institute of Technology's School of Secondary-Tertiary Studies offers an alternative to secondary education by allowing rangatahi to pursue qualifications in areas such as nursing and automotive technology.

Polytechnic head Stuart Middleton says it increases the future employment opportunities for students who might otherwise be tempted to drop out of secondary schools.

He says a third of the current roll is Maori.

Stuart Middleton says the four year programme allows students to gain all levels of the National Certificate of Education Achievement, as well as two years of tertiary qualifications.


Rangatahi are being encouraged to strengthen connections with their whanau during Youth Week, which starts tomorrow.

Project manager Njela Sharrock of Ngati Awa says research shows young Maori who have strong family ties are healthier, and happier and more confident in their identity.

She says communities around the country are getting behind the kaupapa, including a Kaikohe Marae which plans to show rangatahi how to lay a hangi, as well as teach them whakapapa and whanau history.


Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is defending the budget's tax breaks for the rich as a fair representation of their value to the country.

The second Budget under the Maori Party's confidence and supply agreement with National delivered an annual pay rise of more than $300,000 to Telecom chief executive Paul Reynolds, and about $3 a week to someone in the Tuhoe area, where the average income is just $22,000.

Mrs Turia says there is a limit to what people are prepared to pay in tax.

“The top earners pay the most tax in the first instance and that money is therefore available to ensure we’ve got the health and social services and other services we need for people who simply can’t afford to pay for those things,” Mrs Turia says.

The Maori Party has identified $266 million in budget spending which will be for the direct benefit of Maori.


Education Minister Anne Tolley says a $91 million initiative to increase Maori participation in early childhood education will require government, communities and even local government to work together.

Mrs Tolley says she's excited by what the Maunukau City Council-backed Manukau Education Trust is doing to increase the percentage of Maori and Pasifika children in pre-schools, and wants to roll it out to other centuries.

She says the trust has built three pre-schools on the grounds of schools in the region, and more are planned with council help.

“Some places they are even talking about making land available for centres where we don’t have a suitable school site or we can’t buy a section to put a centre on so it is a partnership between the community, the Ministry of Education and in some cases the local authority,” Mrs Tolley says.

She says government spending on pre-school education has almost trebled in the past five years without any real increase in participation.

The initiative will be funded out of money which was supposed to increase the percentage of qualified teachers in early childhood centres.


A Maori health promoter is warning Maori to be wary of tuberculosis.

Denise Ewe from Tainui says an awareness programme was shelved last year because resources went into preparing for the swine flu pandemic, but the deadly disease is making a comeback worldwide.

She says it's a particular problem for Maori because it can be easily spread in overcrowded living conditions.

Maori with flu-like symptoms should see a doctor, in case the condition is TB.

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