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Figure It Out Financial Literacy Theme Books

Launch of the Figure It Out Financial Literacy Theme Books

Launch of Figure it Out financial literacy books for younger students

E ngâ mana, e ngâ reo, e ngâ hau e whâ

Tçnâ koutou, tçnâ koutou, tçnâ koutou katoa.

Good morning and thanks for your welcome. I'd like to acknowledge Principal Kevin Ryan and Board chair Matt Barclay, Business New Zealand's Nicholas Green, Dianna Crossan, Learning Media's Gillian Candler, other invited guests, staff, students and parents. It's great to be here at Raroa Intermediate.

First I want to congratulate the staff at Learning Media Limited, the writers, the designers, the illustrators, and the editors for the excellent set of publications we're launching today.

The Figure it Out booklets are aimed at helping younger students learn about money. There was nothing like them when I was your age. I went to St Patrick's Convent School in Panmure in Auckland. Back then the way we were taught, and the things we were taught, were very different to the way school works today.

I remember at St Patrick's we had a Post Office Savings Bank book, and we learnt all about banking, and saving, and interest.

Every week, my mother gave me two shillings and six pence to take to school so it could be put into my bank account. New Zealand didn't have dollars and cents back then - everything was in pounds, shillings and pence. My two shillings and sixpence was probably the equivalent to around $5 today.

The Sisters at St Patrick's would take our books away to do the banking and bring them back next day with a stamp and a new balance. Once a term the lady from the Post Office would come and talk to us about the importance of having lots of money in our savings accounts.

It was always tempting to spend some of the money on the way to school on lollies, but we didn't because we knew that if we put the money in the savings account we'd earn interest - money paid by the Post Office depending on how much we'd saved. Interest was a whole four and a half percent! And sure enough, once a year our bankbooks would be sent to the Post Office and small amounts of money would be added.

I think a lot of people look at the old days of schooling through rose-coloured glasses. The way schools work today for students are a million times better than it was in my day. But one of the things that was good about the old days was learning about how money worked; learning about the importance of saving.

If my colleague Dr Michael Cullen was here, he'd say that learning about saving is more important than ever! But financial matters are more complicated nowadays. There's EFTPOS and credit cards, cellphone top-up cards, Flybuys and AA rewards. There are mortgages and reverse mortgages, shares, bonds and first ranked debenture stock. There's Kiwisaver, taxes, budgets, triple bottom line accounting, and six months' interest free if you buy a new refrigerator today. It's enough to make your head spin!

Nowadays the decisions we have to make about money are more complicated than ever. It's still important to learn about saving, but we need to learn about lots of other stuff too.

So the new curriculum which we released earlier this month says that school students should learn more about financial literacy. By literacy, we don't mean reading or writing. We mean knowing about money: how to earn lots of it; how to spend it; how to save it, how to borrow it; how to give it to charity; how to be enterprising and innovative with it; and how to plan for your financial future.

We want you all to be financially responsible and capable of making sound financial decisions, whether it is your pocket money, a birthday windfall, or whether you're saving money to buy a new bike, or iPod, or sneakers. A lot of these sorts of decisions are trickier than they seem at first.

The four new Figure It Out books which I am launching today have been specially written to address all aspects of financial literacy. They're extra important because these are the first books published with the new curriculum in mind.

There are now more than seventy Figure It Out books available to support teaching and learning in our schools. The Answers and Teachers Notes also provide an excellent guide for teachers.

Two of the new books are written for people your age. Two of them are for younger kids in years four, five and six.

Each book has a financial theme with children your age participating in scenarios that you can relate to. Some of the characters in the books have bright business ideas, and you'll think about how they can make those ideas happen. You'll be able to put yourselves in the shoes of people with real financial dilemmas, and think about how you would approach those challenges.

One of the books is called Granny's Gift. In this book [hold up] granny decides to give her eight grandchildren a cash gift to celebrate her birthday. Your have to help each grandchild make decisions about how to spend their money, invest their money, or give some of their money to charities.

Will you be like Kalala and want to buy a cell phone? Or like Tavita and decide to invest in shares? Or like Rebecca and think about investing in her passion - basketball? Or like Connor who likes to see his bank balance grow?
In the second book [hold up], four young people have plans to start a business and make money - Charu and her pickles, Whana and his T-shirts, Jessica and her calves, and Mike and his bicycle repair business. After talking with your classmates you'll have to decide who The Young Enterpreneur of the Year is.

One of the Figure It Out books for younger kids has a story about a boy named Ethan. Ethan's family has some chooks and he wants to sell the spare eggs to earn pocket money.

One of the things that you might not know is that I used to raise chickens on land in my Te Atatu electorate and I had a reputation for raising very pretty chooks! I specialised certain breeds of chooks and pretty soon I had a much bigger business selling chicks and eggs than I had ever imagined. Every Friday night 500 chickens would hatch and I had egg incubators for 3000 eggs!

So I sympathise with all of the things that you have to think about when you read Ethan's story. You have to work out how much food for his chooks costs, and how much it costs to get new chickens, and how sometimes chooks lay less eggs in the winter when it's cold.

By reading Ethan's story and talking about it, students will learn that while a business can earn money from selling something, businesses also have costs that they need to cover; and that every business has risks that you have to think about carefully.

Under the new curriculum we want everyone to learn about skills to help them get through life, and financial literacy is an essential skill. These books are a great resource to help that learning in the classroom.

I am looking forward to visiting some of your classes soon to see how these books help all of you learn more about money.

No reira, tçnâ koutou, tçnâ koutou, tçnâ koutou katoa.

ENDS

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