Kohanga reo teacher Ann Makea is adding a new service to her preschool offering - financial literacy for the children's parents.

Mrs Makea, 43, is one of six Glen Innes community leaders who are being trained as volunteer "financial coaches" in a unique programme being launched today called Growing Financial Independence in Tamaki (G-FIT).

She will carry on in the day job she has done for 17 years as the kaiwhakahaere, or head teacher, at Te Kohanga Reo o Te Taurere. But she will now also be available to help families with debts and other financial problems.

"My aim is just to empower my people and get to give them that knowledge, and support them in whatever they need, whether that be budgeting or even looking at a loan to buy their own home," she said.


Puamiria Maaka, manager of local community service Te Waipuna Puawai, who brought together a group of agencies to create the programme, said it aimed to be "preventative" - offering low-key help before financial problems get out of hand.

"We are trying to find them and equip them with really good information," she said.

The other five coaches work at the local marae, in a Tongan preschool, at the citizens advice bureau, and as a doctor and community worker for Tongan social services.

Training is being funded by $20,000 from the Tamaki Redevelopment Company, with a second batch of trainees due to start in September.