Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's education and lifestyle reporter.

Rotorua 'committed to solving poverty' (+video)

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Caitlin Papuni-McLellan (left) and Elaina Lauaki-Vea gave a presentation at the Tackling Poverty NZ workshop at the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre. PHOTO/BEN FRASER
Caitlin Papuni-McLellan (left) and Elaina Lauaki-Vea gave a presentation at the Tackling Poverty NZ workshop at the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre. PHOTO/BEN FRASER

Initiatives from Rotorua's "incredibly honest and caring community" could become national examples for overcoming poverty if they are given the time and effort to develop, according to one expert in the field.

The McGuinness Institute's TacklingPovertyNZ workshop was held in Rotorua today, providing a broad national and local context for the conversation around how to tackle poverty in New Zealand.

The one-day workshop tour was sparked by the national TacklingPovertyNZ workshop held in December 2015, an initiative of the McGuinness Institute in collaboration with the New Zealand Treasury.

McGuinness Institute chief executive Wendy McGuinness said the Rotorua workshop had "brilliant outcomes".

"I was struck by the city's incredibly honest, caring community that is committed to solving the issue of poverty.

"The amazing thing is, with enough energy, time and effort, Rotorua is small enough to truly make a difference for people in need.

"There is already a lot being done around the issue in Rotorua and there were a lot of really excellent ideas but the resounding thing to come out of today's workshop was that there is still more to be done."

Ms McGuinness said all the presentations were brilliant, particularly the local speakers, Judge Louis Bidois, Te Tatau o Te Arawa's Potaua Biasiny-Tule and Te Arawa Whanau Ora's Laurie Watt.

"They were stunning. The local participants were challenged and we got great conversations starting. There was a lot of focus on young people as well as respect for elderly.

"There is good leadership in the Rotorua community and with some dedicated hard work, I have no doubt we will see rewarding and durable solutions come out of the city that will be used as fantastic examples for the rest of New Zealand."

Bay of Plenty women Caitlin Papuni-McLellan and Elaina Lauaki-Vea were two participants in the 2015 workshop, speaking today in the youth presentation.

"We both have such a passion for solving the poverty issue because we have experienced it first hand and have that genuine desire to see it changed," Miss Papuni-McLellan said.

"Poverty is not something that can be explained by numbers or data, it's real and it's happening. I saw poverty absolutely growing up so now I want to do everything I can to help others get out of that inter-generational cycle," Miss Lauaki-Vea said.

Miss Papuni-McLellan said it was not just a problem seen in the major centres.

"All you hear about is the problem in Auckland and Wellington so this travelling workshop is an opportunity to give New Zealand's smaller communities a chance to have a platform to talk about poverty and find solutions for it."

The next workshop will be held in Gisborne at the end of August.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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