IT'S not every day a government minister gives you exactly what you ask for - especially if you're a 17-year-old Kaikohe girl.

But that's what happened to Sally Pope-Martin.

Following controversy over the run-down state of Northland College, Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye visited the school in August to announce a $14 million rebuild.

While there she met a group of senior students to ask what she could do to make school better.


Sally told Ms Kaye that more teaching of basic financial skills was needed. She was about to leave school but had no understanding of rent, mortgages, interest or credit cards, and the prospect of having to look after her own finances scared her.

Many people her age thought credit cards were "cool" but did not realise the danger of racking up huge debts, Sally said.

When the Minister returned to the school earlier this month it was to announce that, as of 2016, financial capability would be taught across all years at the college.

Ms Kaye said Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell - who, despite her title, is responsible for lifting financial skills of all New Zealanders - saw the article in the Advocate about Sally's request and offered to help make it happen.

The Commission for Financial Capability is now working with the Young Enterprise Trust and others to introduce the classes next year, and later hopes to expand the programme to Kaikohe workplaces, community groups and marae. Financial capability lessons are already offered at some Auckland schools.

Sally said it was "pretty cool" that Ms Kaye had kept her word. She was used to adults visiting the school and promising things but not always delivering.

"I was really surprised. I was happy as. I reckon it'll be a huge benefit to the students who get to take part in it."

While the new classes would come too late for Sally, she was pleased that other students would benefit.


Ms Maxwell, who accompanied Ms Kaye on her October 16 visit, said she wanted young people to leave school confident and equipped to make good money decisions.

"Choices you make between 16 and 20 around money can be hard to come back from and can impact your future opportunities," she said.

Ms Kaye has also promised funding to set up a Venturer Scout group in Kaikohe, at the request of Northland College principal Jim Luders, and to help organise practical work experience for the students.

She said she would return later this year or early in 2016.

Next year Sally plans to study Te Tohu Paetahi, a total immersion Maori language programme at Waikato University, to prepare her for teaching in te reo. Afterwards she hoped to return to Kaikohe.