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Mallard Addresses Tu Tangata National Conference

Hon Trevor Mallard

Tu Tangata National Conference – Parliament Buildings

I'm here formally as the Minister of Education.

But in my heart, I'm here as the MP for Hutt South.

As you may know, Hutt South includes Wainuiomata, where I live. Through my job as a local MP, I've had more to do with Tu Tangata than most politicians have. I've always been really proud, when people have talked about Tu Tangata, that it is an initiative that has its roots in my community.

Community is the essence of Tu Tangata. Its success is because it involves the community in the school.

Tu Tangata has armed young people in Wainuiomata with more confidence and motivation. There has been a reduction in absenteeism and truancy; and suspension levels have reduced.

When there are social concerns and students are falling behind, they can be addressed more quickly with parental involvement.

But while a lot is said about the positive outcomes Tu Tangata has on students, I know first hand that its success extends much further than that. It has also helped adults in the community grow.

I'm a big fan of life long learning in many forms. I don't think anyone ever knows too much, or is too old, to learn new skills or have new educational experiences. While Tu Tangata has been positive for secondary school students, it has also been positive for their whanau and the wider community.

Government funding for Tu Tangata has been through the innovations pool. – funding that we can distribute to communities to try new innovations that they feel will meet specific needs in their community.

This year we increased the funding of the Innovations Pool by $4 million over the next four years. Of that increase, about $300,000 each year is to be specifically earmarked for Tu Tangata.

This Government has a vision for a more prosperous and decent New Zealand. We are looking to build a country in which all New Zealanders have a stake and a feeling of greater security.

You would have heard a lot about our closing the gaps objectives. It is vital to a vibrant future for all New Zealanders that we look at ways in which groups that are lagging behind in all the social indicators get support to fully participate in our society.

That means having good health, the skills and qualifications to get jobs, and of course that there are jobs for people to get.

There has been criticism of this objective and its focus on Maori and Pacific people. But there's an old saying that talks about 'different strokes for different folk'. The education system was built on middle class values. Over the years there have been advances, but we still have a lot of making up to do.

Programmes like Tu Tangata recognise the different needs of different groups within our society. That is why pre-election, we stated our commitment to financially support your work.

Nearly a million dollars over the next three years shows we are a Government committed to keeping our promises.

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