20 May 2015

Kura complains about loss of cash

9:25 pm on 20 May 2015

A Gisborne kura says the Government has slashed nearly $40,000 of desperately needed funding from its budget due to an incorrect decile rating.


A recent report by the Salvation Army found Māori in regional areas such as Gisborne (pictured) were the most disadvantaged in the country. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

It is one of two kura on the East Coast of the North Island that say the Government is not providing enough support for their communities.

A Salvation Army report released last week revealed that Māori who live in regional areas such as Gisborne and Northland were the most disadvantaged in the country.

Merearihi Whatuira teaches at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Uri Ā Māui and is a member of the New Zealand Education Institute's Māori leadership team.

Miss Whatuira said the kura was being penalised by new housing developments in the rohe, leading to a rise in its decile rating from one to three.

But she said while the school's decile had changed, the poverty of the families whose children attended the school remained the same.

"We shouldn't be penalised because of all these new building developments around us. If they don't come to us and talk to us and say, 'Will these children be coming to your kura?', it affects the funding we get."

She said there was a diverse range of both wealthy and poor people in the area but many families whose tamariki attend the kura were struggling to get by.

She said children often arrived at school without having had breakfast, and the teachers fed them out of their own pocket.

"Yes, we do have poverty in our community, a lot of our tamariki come to school with no food. Whether that's by choice sometimes or because of a lack of money from whānau at home. We have instances of tamariki that don't come to school on particular days of the week because there is nothing in the cupboard."

Miss Whatuira said the children from new housing developments near the school were unlikely to attend Ngā Uri Ā Māui.

She said the kura's staff were shocked when the Ministry of Education raised its decile and the decision was now under review.

"When we heard about the decile changes, we thought when they came in we would be alright, we'd still be on our decile one because we've still got the same children coming to our school.

"Not a lot of their parents are doctors, accountants, and lawyers, you know - high earners."

'Very little comes out to the regions'

The administrator for another school, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Kahungunu o Te Wairoa in northern Hawke's Bay, said their rohe was also feeling the economic pinch.

Mere Martin said they felt neglected by the Government.

"We've had quite a few shops in the CBD shut down because everything goes to Auckland or Christchurch - very little comes out to the regions."

Miss Martin said the Ministry of Education had also changed the kura's decile rating - lowering it from from 1b to 1a - but it was not disputing the change, as it meant $6000 extra funding a year.

A caregiver whose tamariki attend Ngāti Kahungunu o Te Wairoa, Ngarangi Thompson, said the Government needed to take more action and consult properly with mana whenua.

"The Government may need to come down to the ground roots and ask the people what they need and to support them and help build up the community."

The Ministry of Education rejects the Gisborne kura's claims.

The Deputy Secretary for Evidence, Data and Knowledge, Lisa Rodgers, said the funding cut was only about $15,000.

Ms Rodgers said the kura applied for a review and it was in the process of being looked at.

She said the ministry provided schools with money over two years to help with the transition and ease any impact from their loss of funding.

The concept design of the new buildings for Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Kahungunu o Te Wairoa.

Finance Minister Bill English said the Government had invested $4 million in new buildings for Ngāti Kahungunu o Te Wairoa. Photo: Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Kahungunu o Te Wairoa

In a statement, Finance Minister Bill English rejected Ngāti Kahungunu o Te Wairoa's criticisms and said it had just invested $4 million in revamping the school after 20 years' lobbying by the local community.

It said there had recently been a substantial increase in the East Coast's infrastructure, including funding for improved roading.

In a statement, Communications Minister Amy Adams also said the Government had invested considerably in the Gisborne region, via its Ultra-Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband Initiative programmes.

She said these programmes aimed to develop better connectivity to create jobs and grow income.

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