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Maori students – Face to face with DWI

The release of the independent review of the processing of student loans by the Department of Work and Income has indicated to student associations that much needed change to the systems of processing of loans is indeed on its way.

“The fiasco created by the then Work And Income New Zealand (WINZ) caused a lot of unnecessary stress, both emotionally and financially for Maori students. We are pleased to see that our comments have been taken on board and that there will be definite changes to the way that DWI administers the processing of student loans in the future”, announces Danica Waiti, Kaituuhono for Te Mana Akonga, the National Maori University Students’ Association.

Key recommendations made in the report included:

 A centralised call-centre supported by increased one-on-one access to DWI staff on campus,
 Increased staff training to ensure that DWI staff understand enrolment procedures and basic fundamentals of tertiary study, and
 More co-operation and consultation with institutions and students to ensure that the loans processing system is effective and efficient.

Some of the problems identified by Maori students in a survey undertaken by Te Mana Akonga (Inc.) back in April included the continuous engagement of the WINZ helpline telephone number, numerous telephone calls placed on hold, and delays in receiving paperwork. It was clearly identified that having a reliable and efficient WINZ staff member on campus with on-line access to WINZ could have assisted students with small enquiries such as the status of their loans application form.

“Maori students are one of the largest groups to undertake the student loans scheme. It is apparent that kanohi ki te kanohi or the face-to-face approach works best with our people, and that includes Maori students. For government departments such as DWI and others with a high number of Maori clientele, this needs to be taken into account”, concludes Miss Waiti.

Contact: Danica Waiti
Ph 04 4982506 or 021 440 279

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