Māori students' wishlist on Budget Day

By Jessica Tyson

More financial support, free transport and increased student allowances are only some of the changes Māori tertiary students would like to see following the Government’s budget announcement next week.

AUT University Bachelor of Communications student Keani Erstich-Coles of Ngāti Rangi would like more financial support for university students.

“The Labour Government now has done really well in providing more funding for students in terms of student allowance and the rise in living costs, but I would like to see them include second-year and third-year students in their free fees scheme,” says the 19-year-old.

Peta Maria Micayla of Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Manawa, Te Aitanga ā Mahaki and Te Arawa moved to Auckland to study and says she’d like to see living costs increase for those living away from home.

 “The cost of living is just ridiculous, especially in Auckland,” she says.

She’d also like to see more opportunities for rangatahi before they enter tertiary study.

“There’s a big gap I feel in the education system [with] the transition from high school, intermediate, primary to tertiary education, especially for Māori. I have a few friends that feel you have to be smart or excel to be able to come to university.”

Renata White of Ngāti Tama and Tainui says even though student allowance has increased, students are still struggling to pay for their expenses.

“Food is the one thing that gets dropped off if they have to spend everything else on bills. Second would be either rent or bills.”

Another popular issue among students is affording transport to get to university.

Students told Rereātea reporters they can spend up an hour travelling into university each day, sometimes stopping students from making the effort to come to class.

The full budget announcement will be made next Thursday, May 17.