Māori student leaders are “unhappy” with the Government’s COVID-19 tertiary student support package
The Government’s support package includes a $1000 increase to course-related costs, which must be repaid and can’t be used towards the normal cost of accommodation. Kaihau Paitai, Tumuaki of Ngāi Tauira - Victoria University of Wellington's Māori Students' Association, compared this increase to “putting a plaster on a brain tumour”. He said, “An increased [course-related cost] amount means sweet fuck all when all its doing is plunging tauira into further debt.”
On April 14 the Government announced a COVID-19 support package for tertiary students. Te Mana Ākonga (TMA) Co-Tumuaki Mamaeroa Merito and Nohorua Parata are unhappy with the lack of financial support in this package. The two point out that Māori tertiary students already face more barriers to succeeding in tertiary studies than other demographics of students, and they believe that adding the impacts of COVID-19 to the mix will mean “Māori are going to be worse off”
Research by the Ministry of Education revealed that Māori students have one of the lowest retention rates in the tertiary sector. A worry for Mamaeroa and Nohorua is that more tauira Māori will drop out of studies if students are unable to meet their living costs, particularly as students will need to commit fraud if they want the $1000 to go towards rent or food.
We’re all in this together.
Despite being disappointed that the Government has not acted on anything in the National Student Action Plan on COVID-19, which was supported by forty-four student’s associations including TMA, Mamaeroa and Nohorua are looking at the bright side. For them, the support package is a start that will hopefully lead to ongoing conversations around a Universal Student Allowance.
TMA is currently preparing a nationwide study to identify the specific needs of tauira Māori during COVID-19. Te Pararē will cover the results of this study once they are released.
Mamaeroa and Nohorua want to reassure tauira Māori that “we’re all in this together”. Do your best to look after yourself and to try to stay in study, because “the seeds you plant today will be the tōtara your mokopuna will sit under in the future”.
Mō te kaituhi:
Taylor Terekia | Te Aitanga-ā-Māhaki / Ngāti Porou / Kāi Tahu