Education and a cross-section approach is needed to improve Northlanders' lives, say the region's leaders.

The comments come after the Mixed Fortunes report released by the Salvation Army which showed Northland ranked the poorest across education, employment, crime, youth achievement, abuse and neglect.

The Northern Advocate asked local MPs, mayors, a Salvation Army worker and iwi and hapu representatives what solutions they had for these social problems.

Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai said these were problems that couldn't be solved overnight. "There's no silver bullet. I think it's a multi-pronged approach," she said.


"For example, we've been working hard on truancy with the Ministry of Education and police - these partnerships are important."

Far North Mayor John Carter agreed and said partnerships with local iwi and within local government were a key part of solving the issues. "The issue is we have government departments and non-governmental organisations working in silos, so we are not getting the co-ordination or outcomes we could be getting. Northland is actually awash with Government money, but it's not hitting home base."

Te Taitokerau MP Kelvin Davis said there needed to be a focus on education.

The report showed Northland had the lowest rate of under-5s enrolled in early childhood education.

Mr Davis said that could be attributed to the difficult process for setting up early childhood education centres in low population areas.

"[It's] complicated, resourcing is scarce, there are many hoops to jump through and in the end it becomes a burden for parents," he said.

In order for educational achievement in Northland to improve, schools needed more resources.

Whangarei Salvation Army corps officer Jenny Ratana-Koia agreed an emphasis on education was needed.


"A child just doesn't turn around one day and say 'I want to be a criminal' that stems from early on. Children need to be provided with a good education from day one," she said.

MP for Whangarei, Dr Shane Reti said two ways to improve the lives of Northlanders was through better education and more jobs.

In February this year, the Government launched the Northland Regional Growth Study which would pinpoint and prioritise economic opportunities for the region. "The next step is to put these ideas into place in partnership with the community. Improving economic outcomes will play a key role in improving health and social outcomes for Northland people," he said. Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said after the Ngapuhi settlement is completed the iwi would be able to invest in the region and help solve some of these issues.

Both Sonny Taucrrct, the leader of Tuhoronuku -the group given mandate to negotiate settlements, and Pita Tipene, leader of the group who oppose Tuhoronuku -Te Kotahitanga, said there needed to be some responsibility upheld by the Government.