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Focus on Māori Saving And Financial Literacy


JOINT MEDIA STATEMENT:
Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income, Federation of Maori Authorities, National Urban Maori Authority, Ngai Tahu, Maori Trustee, Bank of New Zealand, University of Waikato, Russell Investments


Focus on Māori Saving And Financial Literacy

The Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income, the Federation of Māori Authorities, the National Urban Māori Authorities, Ngāi Tahu, the Māori Trustee and the Bank of New Zealand are pooling resources to provide more effective advice to Māori wanting to participate in long-term savings and financial literacy programmes. They will be backed by Waikato University, with expertise in financial education, and one of the world’s leading fund management and advisory businesses, Russell Investments.

The group will share their expertise to create new plans and strategies and to complement existing work in designing Māori-specific savings schemes and deliver financial education programmes to Māori.

The initiative will be led by Phil Broughton, Project Manager Māori Financial Literacy, for the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income.

The combined Government and private sector resources and expertise of this group will be used to encourage Māori financial literacy, to help more Māori develop Māori-specific financial literacy programmes, and to encourage greater understanding of financial issues, with a focus on what is right for the Māori community.

“These are issues that face all New Zealanders,” said the Chairman of the Māori Economic Development Panel, Ngahiwi Tomoana. “But, as in many areas of the economy, Māori participation rates aren’t as high as they should be and the Māori Economic Development Plan has identified these two areas as a priority work stream.

“The organisations we have shoulder-tapped to assist us all have considerable expertise in these fields and in some cases are already delivering this type of work in the wider community. Taking these resources and targeting Māori development can only result in good things for the Māori economy and therefore the New Zealand economy.

Mr Broughton, who is of Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāi Tahu descent, said the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income had developed these strategies to encourage Māori financial literacy, but the new group would take the effort to the next level, drawing on the range of expertise and experience within the group.

“Whanau want financial security and Māori businesses want to grow while maintaining majority control, so Māori people need money in the bank and the first step in that journey is basic financial literacy,” Mr Broughton said.

“This initiative will aggressively seek to reach all Māori to explain the importance of savings and to boost Māori savings in the long-term, as well as the importance of reducing debt. It’s clear there are a number of groups already working in the field but with different approaches and resources. Capturing and directing those resources will be the key.”

Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon said the Iwi’s own savings scheme, that focussed on tertiary education, first home and retirement savings, had initially been slow on take up, but with experience, new ways of selling the benefits had been developed and pick-up increased.

“We’ve learned a lot from our experience and we are very happy to make that information available to other iwi, urban Māori authorities or anyone else as they work to develop their own schemes or identify existing schemes that will work for their needs,” said Mr Solomon.

John Tamihere, of the National Urban Māori Authority, said personal savings were of particular importance to Māori who were not closely affiliated with traditional iwi.

“We’re looking forward to helping the new initiative reach Māori in the cities and help them get the financial security they need,” he said.

Māori Trustee, Jamie Tuuta, and Te Horipo Karaitiana, Chief Executive of the Federation of Māori Authorities both welcomed the formation of the group and noted the incredible amount of good will and intent to act on the group.

“There’s a huge and genuine willingness among these organisations to collaborate to support Māori to achieve their economic aims, both at an individual and wider economic level,” said Mr Tuuta.

“The Māori Economic Development Panel may have a focus out to 2040 but with this wave on impetus the benefits of the plan will be evident well before that date,” said Mr Karaitiana.

The BNZ’s CEO, Andrew Thorburn, said the bank was delighted to be involved and that this initiative represented a significant step for the financial well being of Māori.

“I believe that financial literacy should be treated as an important life-skill along with reading, writing and maths. With the Māori economy set for huge expansion it is vital that Māori grasp this opportunity to make a positive and meaningful contribution to their financial futures. BNZ is delighted to be part of this journey,” said Mr Thorburn.

Russell Investments Head of Consulting Daniel Mussett says his company can draw on research and experience from 25 international offices to help identify longer-term savings schemes that may be more attuned to the Māori view of assets and asset management.

“We work for many trusts and organisations with complex ownership structures around the world,” said Mr Mussett. “Many Māori Trusts have a relatively small pool of assets that have comparatively large numbers of owners or interested parties and finding a way to manage those assets for the betterment of all interests is not a simple task. But there are models that can work and we bring practical knowledge of these to the table.”

Professor Diana Coben, Director of the National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults, University of Waikato, said the University’s extensive historical ties with Māori and its own work in the education sector and financial literacy would be another great source of knowledge for the group in developing its education stream of work.


END

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