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New Community Financial Independence Collective in Tamaki

Growing Financial Independence in Tamaki (G-FIT)

Media release

June 2014

New Community-Based Financial Independence Collective Launches in Tamaki

An innovative new approach to increasing financial independence in the Tamaki community launches on 26 June at a lively event at the Ruapotaka Marae in Glen Innes.

G-FIT (Growing Financial Independence in Tamaki) is a community-based initiative that will drive action and raise awareness of financial issues, and connect Tamaki residents to home budgeting, financial literacy knowledge, money saving for example reducing power costs, growing your own vegies, skills and employability, low interest lenders and consumer affairs.

G-FIT steering group member Puamiria Maaka says debt, poverty, low levels of home ownership and a high concentration of state housing in Tamaki means that families are often struggling with multiple obstacles when it comes to their finances:

“The Tamaki community is experiencing rising unemployment, going up from 6% in 2006 to 9.2% in the 2013 Census, as well as constant harassment from loan trucks and fringe lenders. Most of the time people here desperately need instant cash, clothing, or food and simply don’t realise the long term impact of a misinformed financial decision.”

Going to where the people are

Maaka says: “G-FIT is taking a different approach. We will go to where the people are, and connect them with other locals (the G-FIT ambassadors and coaches) who speak in a way the community understands, respects and can apply in their own life.

Maaka says that educating people about the long-term effects of high-interest loans from fringe lenders and the clothing trucks that target low-income areas is a key step in reducing household debt and dependence on unscrupulous finance companies.

“G-FIT is not aligned with any bank or financial lender, so we can ensure our community gets access to the right support and advice, without an alternative motive. We are happy to work alongside banks and providers, but G-FIT is an independent organisation for Tamaki.”

Evidence-based approach

“We are taking an evidence-based approach to increasing levels of financial independence in Tamaki. After an extensive research project in late 2013, we found that there is a vague awareness of debt and poverty in Tamaki, and most people feel that there is a local concern, but there is no immediate motivation to do anything about it. G-FIT will drive action for financial issues in Tamaki and motivate the community to take action.”

Providing tools and support for residents

“In Tamaki, there is no shortage of financial and budgeting services; the problem is capacity and effectiveness. For many families, going to a budgeting centre or food bank doesn’t usually happen until crisis point. That’s not a solution, that’s a band aid to the symptom.

Maaka says: “G-FIT will drive effective, long-term sustainable change for Tamaki residents and their attitudes, awareness and actions towards money, wealth and independence. Our first step is the launch event, which brings together community members, young artists from The Roots collective who are creating a G-FIT art installation, local media, our steering group and providers who work in the area serving the people of Tamaki.”

-Ends-

For more information and to arrange interviews with G-FIT or to be connected with an ambassador or coach, please contact Mikela Dennison on mikela@theclaritybusiness.co.nz or 021 294 6741.

Background

• Tāmaki is an ethnically diverse community with a young and growing population

• Many families have low and / or irregular incomes and few material assets. A number of families have growing debt and intergenerational unemployment

• High levels of debt drive high-cost lending (added to by aggressive loan trucks and high-interest loans from fringe lenders)

• There is a lack of home ownership, and a high concentration of state housing (56%)

• There are a number of providers of financial literacy services in Tāmaki, but the majority are over-capacity and most often deal with families in crisis, rather than pre-emptively equipping families to manage their money and service debt

• The community has high levels of deprivation, low levels of educational achievement, low labour force participation, low incomes, high unemployment, and high dependency on social security benefits.

• Poor credit ratings with mainstream financial providers (i.e. banks) and as such many are in debt to fringe lenders


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