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Realising Māori potential focus of dynamic new partnership

Realising Māori potential focus of dynamic new partnership

A shared vision to reduce child poverty rates and social inequity is at the heart of a new funding arrangement between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the Peter McKenzie Project (an initiative of the J R McKenzie Trust).

The grant, worth almost $1.4m over five years, is the largest amount ever funded in the history of the J R McKenzie Trust and will be used to help fund a social innovation lab to be based within Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. This is a co-investment arrangement whereby both Ngāi Tahu and the Peter McKenzie Project have committed funds to the initiative in a bid to spearhead change and maximise collective impact.

“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu to be partnering with the Peter McKenzie Project, and to have received this very generous funding contribution alongside our own commitment. As we well know the statistics relating to Māori and inequality will continue to grow as our Māori population grows if we do not turn outcomes around. The kind of systemic change required to make a real difference will take time and this has been recognised by the long-term nature of our funding agreement,” says Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Chief Executive Officer, Arihia Bennett.

“Our goal is to achieve equity in education, employment and income for all Māori in our takiwā by 2040. We know these are key drivers of whānau empowerment, security and prosperity, and, in transforming outcomes for tamariki.”



The project will be led by the recently established Tokona Te Raki, a social innovation hub headed by Dr Eruera Tarena which has been set up specifically with a focus on using collaboration and innovation to create the transformational pathways that will create equity in education, employment and income, that will ultimately see Māori potential being realised.

“Changing the system means moving beyond business as usual and working together to develop new and bold solutions to take us forward. We need to utilise the strengths already within our communities and to ensure we are all actively contributing to Māori success,” says Arihia Bennett.

“We have found the perfect partner in the Peter McKenzie Project. They share our vision and commitment.”

The Peter McKenzie Project is an initiative of the J R McKenzie Trust (a philanthropic family trust that has been granting funds to create a better New Zealand for almost 80 years) and has $15 million to spend over the next 20 years, to contribute to reducing child and family poverty in New Zealand.

Peter McKenzie Project director Iain Hines believes the solution lies in creating long-term, systemic change: "Complex problems need thoughtful, joined-up solutions and sustained support to effect real change. Most funding doesn't have those long-term horizons.

"Poverty and hardship are complex. We need to take into account the contributing personal circumstances and the systems that can lock people into poverty. The Peter McKenzie Project wants to encourage a different way of thinking.”

Both partners acknowledge that they do not know what the solutions will be in advance, but are committed to an adaptive approach where they will be co-created and designed specifically to address the root causes of inequality and poverty rather than just treating the symptoms.

“This approach is both exciting and daunting. Changing systems is not straightforward or linear; we need bold and thoughtful experimentation. We are delighted to be partners in the Tokona Te Raki social innovation hub which we think will be a key driver in creating a better tomorrow for our tamariki, whānau and communities”, says Mr Hines.


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