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Mâori students distraught at Budget cuts

TE MANA ÂKONGA (INC.)
National Mâori Tertiary Students’ Association

Mâori students distraught at Budget cuts

Mâori students today are distraught at the cuts to Mâori student scholarship funding, released in the Budget today. An initial $2.1 million dollars has been cut from the Manaaki Tauira grant with the news the programme is to be “wound down”. Manaaki Tauira currently provides financial assistance to over 9,000 Mâori students per year.

“Mâori students are absolutely distraught at the removal of this grant” says Veronica Tawhai, Kaituhono of Te Mana Akonga, the National Mâori Tertiary Students’ Association. “The continued attacks on Mâori student support funding have already devastated what few resources we have. Manaaki Tauira was the only grant of its kind, open to all Mâori based on need. It’s removal is the final straw in the breaking of Mâori tertiary students hopes for any assistance”.

Started in 1991, the purpose of the Manaaki Tauira grant is to provide financial assistance to Mâori in tertiary education. It is granted on commitment and involvement in Mâori communities, and financial need.

“There are 9,000 Mâori students out there who are now going to be in even more financial strife to buy text books, learning resources, study materials, and pay their fees. The need of these students is crystal clear – and has simply been ignored. Government rhetoric on ‘needs based’ funding is an absolute farce. This is an attack on Mâori advancement, pure and simple”.

The abolishment of the Manaaki Tauira grant is a result of a Ministry of Education assessment, which claims the grant was ineffective, and will now be used to fund a initiative aimed at better equipping secondary school teachers to educate Mâori students.

“Where’s the $130 million taken in the race-based funding review, meant to be replaced by needs based funding? What about the $600 million savings on the interest free student loans policy? Why take our few million? Manaaki Tauira may not be a significant amount in the scheme of things, but it was absolutely treasured by us – it made a difference”.

“Mâori students have got the government’s message loud and clear: real assistance for Mâori development is a dream they never intend to deliver on. Te Mana Âkonga will now be working to address the shortfall in resources, as well as trying to get this much needed form of support reinstated” concluded Miss Tawhai.

ENDS

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